The Kept by James Scott | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Kept

The Kept

3.6 52
by James Scott

View All Available Formats & Editions

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Enter the harsh winter weather of upstate New York in 1897, which from the start plays a role in this impressive debut. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns to her isolated farm and walks from the train station under a sky and clouds as oppressive as her sins: anger, covetousness, and thievery. Upon reaching the homestead, she finds her husband and all but one of her five children, her son Caleb, murdered. A grim story of revenge develops into much more as mother and son track down those responsible, and young Caleb is faced with understanding his mother's crimes and ultimately forgiving her. As they close in on their quarry, the weather escalates into a fierce snowstorm, and they must battle ice and frigid temperatures as well as hired murderers. VERDICT Merging the Southern gothic tale with a style recalling the Western, this action-packed novel would make a terrific film. The author has crafted a laudable, compelling, tightly woven tale with memorable characters, Caleb in particular. Scott writes with an eloquence that urges the reader to return to passages and reread them just to admire his superb skill. Highly recommended.—Lisa Rohrbaugh, Leetonia Community P.L., OH

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

James Scott is a former investigative reporter with the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina,
where he was named Journalist of the Year in 2003 by the South Carolina Press
Association. A 2007 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University, Scott is the author of The Attack on the Liberty, which won the Samuel Eliot Morison Award. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Kate Udall is an experienced stage, television, and film actress. She has starred in numerous Broadway and Off Broadway plays, including The Waves and Night of the Iguana. Her television credits include appearances on Law & Order and Blue Bloods. A graduate of Yale University, she lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Kept 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
sneps More than 1 year ago
Look at the book cover very closely. See the house burning, slowly?? Almost smoldering? With all that white snow around and barren trees? Well, there is a story inside with lots of secrets that won’t be revealed until you are ready to take steps toward that fire. This story is absolutely fantastic, brilliantly written, and is not meant for the faint at heart or the rushed reader. It’s a like a stew, the longer it simmers, the better it tastes. Only, this book doesn’t taste good…the secrets are quite shocking, revealing, and show why these characters worked so hard at hiding in their home, away from everyone. As you read this story, remind yourself: this is 1897. Long before the Women’s Suffrage Movement, long before the civil movement, and long before there were telephones, internet, and social media. So, it’s quite interesting to see how stories never die, scars never truly heal, and the lengths people will go to keep the harshest of secrets hidden. Elspeth is a mid-wife, a mother and wife, who often leaves her family for long bouts of time, before returning with money (hidden in the tips her feet). She comes home to find her family brutally murdered, and it is only when she slowly overcomes her shock, does she find herself staring at the end of a barrel. Her only remaining child lives, Caleb, who is quite innocent, ignorant, and is unprepared for the dangers outside their home. Told in alternating voices-Elspeth and Caleb, it is quite interesting to read as Elspeth reflects back on her life and the choices made. Elspeth and Caleb, mother and child, must try to build a relationship with one another and redeem their family by hunting for the family’s killers. Along the way, Caleb and Elspeth encounter new adventures, however James Scott never truly lets us (nor Elspeth) forget what led to that fateful day. This is not an easy book to digest. It won’t be read in a night or two, nor will it be something you will truly appreciate and understand, until you become as invested in Elspeth and Caleb, as they do in their own relationship. It’s a fantastic book, one that would bring vivid conversations in a book club or group setting, and will certainly have you looking at things differently, as you realize that nothing is ever as it seems.
EMMacCallum More than 1 year ago
Set in the late 1800′s it begins by introducing us to Elspeth, a self-proclaimed sinner. At first this seems like some ritualistic, Catholic self-hate, until the truth unfolds in a masterful way. “The Kept” is a dark journey between a mother and son who barely know each other, or themselves, following a tragedy. They’re perfectly flawed and despite some of the damning revelations, you can’t help but sympathize with them. James Scott’s first novel conveys every level of emotion when depicting his two main characters, who both react differently to the death of their family, and to their mutual feelings of revenge. The characters are unforgettable and the adventure rife with uncertainty. I loved this novel from beginning to end for the characters, the depth and lingering feelings it left me with long after I closed it. Historical Fiction lovers will love “The Kept”. It has adventure, every spectrum of character and a story of a unconventional and unforgettable family.
Twink More than 1 year ago
The Kept is James Scott's debut novel - and it has firmly established him as a author to watch. 1897. Upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell trudges home to the isolated farmhouse that houses her husband and five children. But, as she draws closer everything is silent - no noise, no smoke, no light. They're all dead, save one - twelve year old Caleb. Caleb, who sleeps in the barn, who is not comfortable with the scriptures his father lives by.....and who saw the men who killed his family. "Caleb feared she saw his guilt, but hoped she saw how he'd changed. He would defend them, he would find those men and he would kill them for what they'd done to his family." Caleb was a brilliant character. It was him I became invested in. His forced entry into adulthood was hard to watch, yet impossible to turn away from. His thoughts, his unerring goal and his path there were heartbreaking. Elspeth is a complex character as well. The opening lines of the book are hers. "Elspeth Howell was a sinner. The thought passes over here like a shadow as she washed her face or caught her refection in a window or disembarked from a train after months away from home. Whenever she saw a church or her husband quoted verse or she touched the simple cross around her neck, while she fetched her bags, her transgressions lay in the hollow of her chest, hard and heavy as stone." I was intrigued by the isolated setting and the veiled references to the past. Elspeth's sins, and her past are slowly revealed as the book progresses - not in statements, but in a deliciously slow manner through memories and flashbacks. There are a number of secondary characters that are equally well drawn. And like Elspeth and Caleb, also searching. For a sense of belonging, for acceptance, for family, for wealth, for power, for revenge, for vengeance, for the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Scott is a brilliant wordsmith. He prose easily capture the starkness, grittiness, the violence and the hard life that Caleb leads. But the tendrils of hopes, dreams, desires and love are also captured. Scott's descriptions of time and place were just as evocative. I trudged through the cold with Elspeth and Caleb (actually quite easy to imagine as it's -25C. (-13F) outside right now) and saw 'civilization' for the first time through Caleb's eyes. I really enjoyed The Kept. I had no idea where Scott was going to take his story. I appreciate being unable to predict where a narrative will wend. I did read the ending more than once, just to make sure I understood what Scott was saying. And a few more times to see how I felt about it. It's fitting - even if it's not what I would have wanted to have happen. Hauntingly bleak and beautiful. And recommended. Those who enjoy Cormac McCarthy and Charles Portis's True Grit would really enjoy The Kept.
marilynrhea1 More than 1 year ago
This novel was given to me to read and review. I quite liked the time setting of the novel. It is rather a dark and disturbing book that makes you think about choices and the morality of the choices you make. It kept me interested, and guessing, but I thought the middle of the book went a little slow. There are so many layers to the book, that it should really be read and thought about. Altogether, I would recommend this to any serious reader, that like to think about what they read.
JOMONV More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. The writing is so vivid, the story very original. I was enthralled from the first chapter. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was ok, started out strong and kept my interest. It's a strange story and the characters actions make no sense. All this could have been forgiven if not for the ridiculous ending. Pretty disappointing and I wish I could recover the time and money I spent on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overly descriptive almost to the point I had to put the book down. I would say 40% of the book was descriptions of snow, ice, snow storms, ice storms and so on. Understood after Book I section that it was winter, I didn't need 30 pages on and off to describe same. Got the hint. Wanted to like the book more that I did but it rather bored me.
GroveGirl More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to read this book.  The overview intrigued me, however at times I was lost!  The author left many critical pieces out of the story line,.  The details were confusing. Reading should be easy not difficult as this book was.  The ending was very very very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So many elements that should have made the book gripping. Still, it managed to be dull. Poor character development, redundant symbolism and violence. Characters were odd and you never learned why.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VERY GOOD BOOK. Well written. But where's the justice and wrongs to be righted ? I feel quite deprived. I feel like i've been down a long tunnel and hit the train I didn't see coming.j
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Kept is about a mother and son who journey together to seek revenge for the killing of their family. The road they travel will take them back to the small town in which young Caleb was born. Sins of the past will tear them apart and make both mother and son face the disconnect that has defined their relationship. I picked this book to read in my book club and EVERYONE of us loved it and found it difficult to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was just good enough that I kept reading, thinking it would get better, BUT it is a great book to put you to sleep
EffieRN More than 1 year ago
Did not like this book. Found it very confusing, characters' motivations were never clear. I kept reading until the end hoping for understanding. Sadly this hope was in vain. I do not recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A crazy story. Hard to read at times but well worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was on my book club list. I found it interesting enough at first, but then became bored with all the descriptions. I forced myself to finish this book, and I was very disappointed with the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating story line that was a bit gruesome at times. I liked the twists and deep emotional turmoils of the characters leading you through the book. I thought the end was ok and in line with the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On page 31 and from the time the Mom finds her family murdered and youngest son shoots her by mistake the storey stalls. 11 year old moves the bodies of his older siblings and d
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheLoon More than 1 year ago
For me this book was a real "tweener". The writing skill of the author is formidable and he has a strong story line. However, with about 30 pages left in the book I thought we had gotten somewhere with resolving the key issues of the book only to be seriously tripped up in the end. The end left me totally adrift. Are we captured by our fate so much?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I felt parts of the book lingered too much on describing the snow and effects of it..I really did feel Ibenefitted from reading it because it made me think. And isnt that what good books are supposed to do? I dont think I will ever forget the character Caleb nor Elsbeth. I still am thinking of her compusion to have newborn children. Iwould reccomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book well worth the read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago