- 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.