The Kept
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The Kept : A Novel

3.28 (5,948 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 357 pages
  • 156 x 232 x 40mm | 479.99g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • printed endpapers
  • 0062236733
  • 9780062236739
  • 436,924

Back cover copy

In the winter of 1897, Elspeth Howell treks across miles of snow and ice to the isolated farmstead in upstate New York where she and her husband have raised their five children. Her midwife's salary is tucked into the toes of her boots, and her pack is full of gifts for her family. But as she crests the final hill, and sees her darkened house and a smokeless chimney, immediately she knows that an unthinkable crime has destroyed the life she so carefully built.

Her lone comfort is her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who joins her in mourning the tragedy and planning its reprisal. Their long journey leads them to a rough-hewn lake town, defined by the violence both of its landscape and of its inhabitants. There Caleb is forced into a brutal adulthood, as he slowly discovers truths about his family he never suspected, and Elspeth must confront the terrible urges and unceasing temptations that have haunted her for years. Throughout it all, the love between mother and son serves as the only shield against a merciless world.

A scorching portrait of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence, The Kept is told with deep compassion and startling originality, and introduces James Scott as a major new literary voice.
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Review Text

"Scott is a master of mood... This landscape is more mythic than historic, and Scott's characters are dark brush strokes of appetite and deceit. His central concern, as a storyteller, is the dynamic of consequence." New York Times Book Review
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Review quote

What a gripping story teller James Scott is and what a dark and lyrical novel he has written. The Kept is a thrilling debut --Margot Livesey, author of "The Flight of Gemma Hardy""
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Rating details

5,948 ratings
3.28 out of 5 stars
5 13% (761)
4 29% (1,725)
3 37% (2,216)
2 16% (962)
1 5% (284)
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