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.
"The Kept starts out as a straightforward revenge narrative, then slowly deepens into something much more mysterious and compelling. James Scott has written a riveting and memorable debut novel."-- Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers
"The Kept is a deeply moving, disconcerting novel... Scott manages something quite difficult here, balancing both terror and tenderness with apparent ease. By the end of the book, you'll be convinced that he can do just about anything."--Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang
"The Kept is both a thrilling adventure and a literary triumph. Following the journey of a mother and son who lose everything, only to find each other, James Scott's haunting tale will astonish and enchant you, the words echoing long after the final pages have turned."-- Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
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.