“Dark and mysterious. . . . A novel whose daring is found in its bleakness. . . . The plot unfolds with a weighty languor reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. . . sparse, elegant. . . haunting.” — New York Times
Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.
In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.
A scorching portrait of a merciless world—of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence—The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.
I found the book VERY dark without much sense of redemption. The author seemed to strive to make situations and descriptions as grisly as possible. The only few light spots were Frank, the storekeeper,and the storekeeper's wife, all brief scenarios. Otherwise all seemed doom and gloom. Why would a "mother" encourage her 12 year old son to seek to try and kill crazed murderers? The outcome seems predictable and inevitable. What kind of person takes in stride discovering her family so brutally destroyed? Only an attempt to manipulate the story so the son would unknowingly shoot his mother, hence creating more gruesome fodder for this despairing tale of woe.
I definitely would NOT recommend this book!
One of the WORST books I’ve ever read (and I am an avid reader). A bunch of random characters that I couldn’t keep track of and nobody had a personality. I was unmoved by any character. There was no clear beginning and certainly no ending. Nothing made sense. I thought I’d never reach the end and, alas, there was no end. Ugh. Ten thumbs down.
If ending a story were this easy, why wouldn’t EVERYONE write?
This is possibly the lamest, most putrid short-cutting writers experience I have ever encountered.
To spread idle pronouncements of praise throughout the “societal, conversational” endings was pathetic.
Please, leave writing and go bake something. At least then, you end with SOMETHING!