How far would you go for your family, for love, for revenge? In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Elspeth Howell returns home to find her family brutally murdered. The only survivor is her twelve-year-old son who witnessed it all. Wounded, frightened and with retribution in their hearts, mother and son set out into the frozen wilderness to track down the red-scarfed men who killed their loved ones in cold blood. Their journey leads them to a rough-hewn settlement on the edge of ice-filled Lake Erie, a merciless place where violence abounds. Here, forced into a brutal adulthood, Caleb begins to discover truths about his mother he could never have anticipated and Elspeth must finally confront the terrible urges that envelop her. All the while, the memory of Caleb's brothers and sisters presses him onwards. Big skies, deep snow, open wounds: The Kept delves deep into what it means to be a mother - and to be a son. It asks us how far we would go for our family, for love and, ultimately, for revenge?
How far would you go for love, for your family, for survival, for revenge?A debut novel of big skies, deep snow, and open wounds, the ambition and sheer brilliance of The Kept is astonishing.
"A darkly beautiful debut novel full of strange, alluring imagery. The writing is a rare blend of brutality and empathy, emotion and close observation. I thought at times of Cormac McCarthy's work and of the novels of David Vann. At other times it brought to mind Stef Penney's The Tenderness Of Wolves and Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain. But there's something wonderfully distinctive about The Kept. It belongs to James Scott and James Scott alone. A literary page-turner of the highest calibre by a writer of serious talent." -- Jonathan Lee, author of JOY "With its vivid sense of time and place, lyrical writing, and complex questions of what constitutes a family, The Kept is an outstanding debut by a bright new voice in fiction." -- Ron Rash author of The Cove "A deeply moving, disconcerting novel... Scott manages something quite difficult here, balancing both terror and tenderness with apparent ease. By the end of The Kept, you'll be convinced that he can do just about anything." -- Kevin Wilson author of The Family Fang "Mysterious and compelling... James Scott has written a riveting and memorable debut novel." -- Tom Perrotta author of The Leftovers
James Scott was born in Boston and grew up in upstate New York. He has published short fiction in literary reviews and journals, including Ploughshares, One Story and American Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New American Voices. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and dog. The Kept is his first novel.