Review of Steph Posts’s LIGHTWOOD

Polis Books

January 24, 2017

2017 is barely a month old and LIGHTWOOD by Steph Post has already set the bar mighty high for any other books scheduled to be released this year. LIGHTWOOD explores family dynamics, both in the families we’re born in to and the ones we choose.

How far will you go to protect your family?

Everyone wants the money the Scorpions motorcycle gang just earned after their huge cocaine score. Before the bikers can get back to the safety of their rural Florida clubhouse, the outlaw Cannon family robs them. The Pentecostal preacher that loaned the bikers the seed money for the cocaine, Sister Tulah, finds out about the robbery and swears revenge on both the Scorpions and the Cannons. These events set the bikers, the Cannons, and Sister Tulah on an action-packed collision course than only can, and does, end in fire.

The middle son of the Cannon clan, Judah, struggles to stay loyal to his father and older brother after the robbery. He’s always been a reluctant participant in the family’s criminal activities, but he went along because his father always said “family comes first”. Judah begins to question the strength of his family ties after his younger brother is brutally attacked by the Scorpions. He sets out looking for revenge for his brother and it doesn’t matter who gets in his way.

Steph Post does an excellent job balancing the concurrent story lines. While Judah Cannon is the driving force of LIGHTWOOD, Post gives equal time to both Sister Tulah and the Scorpions. The tension between the three groups continues to grow throughout the book. The book’s climax moves seamlessly from Judah’s point of view, then to the Scorpions, and then to Sister Tulah’s.

Post packs a lot of character development into each chapter. None of the characters in LIGHTWOOD are without flaws: a self-righteous preacher, drug dealing bikers, and a family out to get what they think the world owes them. The reader understands why the characters behave as they do. You almost begin to sympathize for some of them, like when you learn why Sister Tulah’s brother came to live with her. But then they do something that reminds you that these are all people choosing to live outside of the law, or who believe that they can live apart from society on their own rules, and you realize that their story can only end in tragedy.

There has been a lot of buzz around LIGHTWOOD and Steph Post, and it is well deserved. She weaves a strong story about families and what people will do for theirs. Pay attention to Post. She’s going places.

Kate Malmon