Review: The Kept by James Scott

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 7, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0062236733
  • Source: Publisher

Set in 1867 at an isolated farm in upstate New York, Elspeth Howell, a midwife, returns home to find her husband and four of her children brutally murdered.  Before she is able to locate her remaining son, she too becomes a victim of gunfire. She survives thanks to the aid of Caleb, her surviving son,  who hid in the pantry while the farm was under attack.

Twelve-year-old Caleb nurses his mother back to health and, after fire decimates their home, the two embark upon a journey in search of the men responsible for destroying their family.

I’ve intentionally kept this summary short as to not give away too much of the novel’s premise. Upon reading the publisher’s full summary myself, my initial perceptions about the novel ended up being completely different than what actually transpired. While this is not necessarily a fault, I did find myself confused as I read, expecting something completely different.  So, what is this novel about? To me, it’s a novel about a mother and son and the things they discover about themselves and one another after a tremendous tragedy.  The journey they embarked upon together was far beyond just physical, but mental and emotional as well. Young Caleb is forced to grow up far faster than he should and, during the journey, uncovers secrets that alter his perceptions of himself and his family.  Elspeth is forced to face and overcome her own inner demons herself, a painful past of lies and deceit that are now hitting her full force.

The Kept is certainly not a light novel, but one that will encroach upon your life, taking your emotions prisoner, forcing readers to approach moral decisions and implications that are dark and devastating.  What this author has crafted is a brilliant masterpiece, a novel so eloquent and beautifully crafted, despite it’s morose tone.  This is a novel that will make you think, long and hard, about the characters’ decisions, closing with an ending that will leave you speechless, stunned by the realization of what has transpired in the pages beneath your fingertips. Highly, highly recommended.

9 Comments to "Review: The Kept by James Scott"

  1. January 6, 2014 - 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Yeah I thought about getting this book; looks good. Is it a page-turner or more of a thoughtful slower read? It sounds explosive! thanks for the review.

  2. January 6, 2014 - 8:06 PM | Permalink

    Your review makes me want to read it, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for it. Sounds a bit dark!

  3. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    Twitter: anitalovesbooks
    January 7, 2014 - 12:58 AM | Permalink

    I gotta read this. I’ve already told bookaliciousmom I want her arc!! Great review, and I agree sometimes summaries tell too much, or not all the right things.
    Can’t wait

  4. January 7, 2014 - 9:59 AM | Permalink

    I just blogged about this book today – after seeing an author recommend it!

    After reading your review, I’m not sure you would recommend it… should I read it? I might pass. Thanks for a great, honest review!

  5. Sheila (Book JOurney)'s Gravatar Sheila (Book JOurney)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    January 7, 2014 - 10:09 PM | Permalink

    I keep seeing this one around! It looks good.

    (I finally figured out what was going on with my commenting on certain blogs – cleared the cache and we are good to go!)

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