The Witch of Hebron is a little like Little House on the Prairie meets the world of Mad Max. It's part two, picking up where part one left off, but it is also a stand-alone. You got the same characters from the first story- Robert Earle, a carpenter turned mayor, Loren Holder, a minister who has lost his faith, Stephen Bullock, a post-apocalyptic lord of a manor, and Brother Jobe, a car salesman turned religious leader. But Kunstler finds ways to dig deeper to reinvent these characters and make them new again. He also introduces new characters including a runaway, the bandit Billy Bones, and the witch of Hebron herself. Then somehow he manages to take all these characters in their divergent lives and tie them together by the end of the story. It is wonderful.
The Witch of Hebron is a coming-of-age story filled with sorrow, revenge, sex, violence, death, loneliness, despair, hope, redemption, and a quiet humanity. I loved the short chapters. As with the first book, I loved the detail about food, clothes, music, things that would matter much more in an apocalyptic world than we can imagine. And maybe I am reading too much into it, but I get the feeling that Kunstler has more in store for the little town of Union Grove. By the end of the book it seems that the town that looked like it was tottering and about to fall over has now found its balance. But I suspect there are greater challenges ahead.