Reminiscent of Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and Gil Adamson’s The Outlander, a powerful debut about a mother’s devastating obsession and a son’s search for answers in the wake of a violent tragedy
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 plains.
Twelve-year-old Caleb nurses his mother back to health, cleaning her wounds and keeping her fed, before they leave their home to seek retribution on the men who committed this heinous crime. As they travel from country to town to hunt the murderers, Elspeth is forced to confront her deepest secrets and question her role in her family’s destruction, while Caleb must navigate the dark places in which killers might reside. The search for vengeance becomes entangled in old lies and past mistakes as mother and son plunge headlong into the unknown future that lies ahead.
The Kept introduces Caleb Howell, an old-beyond-his-years character in the tradition of True Grit’s Mattie Ross and All the Pretty Horses’s Jimmy Blevins; Elspeth Howell, a character as complex and compelling as those of Marilynne Robinson or Michael Ondaatje; and James Scott, a striking new voice in contemporary fiction.