The Cunning Man by David John Butler and Aaron Michael Ritchey
“A great man is always willing to be little.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
David Butler and Aaron Ritchey have created something that I hadn’t known I needed until it was in front of me; a good man.
Not a man without flaws or weaknesses. Not a hulking mountain of perfection upon whose chiseled jaw every problem smashes itself to pieces.
No, what The Cunning Man gives us is a truly humble hero in Hiram Woolley. A man who does the right thing precisely because it is the right thing. He doesn’t need a tragic backstory or a thousand pages of ennui to do what needs doing. He does it because he is present and has the necessary skills to see it through. He never puts himself before others because it never even occurs to him that he is better than anyone. I cannot express how refreshing I found that decision.
Hiram never has it easy, however. The twists, the turns, and the tension run throughout the book. Don’t let the setting fool you, either. The story may take place in a sleepy town in Depression-era Utah, but there’s nothing sleepy about The Cunning Man.
Drama, magic, history, and Coca-Cola are woven through each chapter. Hiram has an excellent cadre of friends and family who come to his aide. His foes? Well, they twist and turn themselves until you arrive in the last place you could ever have imagined things would lead.
I don’t know what the next chapter of Hiram Woolley’s story will bring, but I do know this much: In a time where literary heroes tend to land on the ‘anti’ side of the equation more and more frequently, it is a breath of fresh air to find someone so wholesome to root for.
The next book can’t get here quick enough.
The Unsheathed Quill