Day 710: The Kept

Cover for The KeptBest Book of the Week!
The Kept is a mysterious and darkly moody novel that I found compelling from the first sentences. Elspeth Howell arrives home on a snowy winter day in upstate New York near the turn of the 19th century. She has been away for months working as a midwife. But when she reaches home, she finds that her husband and all of her children that live in the house have been murdered. Only her 12-year-old son Caleb, who has taken to living in the barn, is alive, but he has been hiding in the pantry for days, and when she opens the pantry door, he shoots her in terror.

Caleb spends the next few days alternately trying to take care of his mother and dispose of the bodies of the rest of his family. He cannot bury them in the frozen earth, but in his attempt to burn them, he accidentally burns down the house. He ends up caring for his mother in the barn.

The Howell’s home is isolated and difficult to find. As a young girl, Espeth was driven from her home for having spoken to Jorah, the man she later married, because he was Native American. But there are other reasons for the family’s isolation. In any case, Elspeth thinks the murderers must have sought for their house.

When Elspeth is barely healed, she and Caleb set forth to find the three men who murdered their family, men whom Caleb watched from the barn. They stay briefly with an old couple who have been terrorized by the same three men and who point them in the direction of a town on Lake Erie with a terrible reputation. There, with Elspeth disguised as a man, they go to search for the men.

Beginning as a straightforward revenge novel, the book goes on to explore deeper themes. One of them is that of unintended consequences, as Caleb finds that their troubles result from Elspeth’s own actions years before.

This novel is well written and packed with atmosphere. It is vivid and brutal and beautiful.

Related Topics

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11 thoughts on “Day 710: The Kept

  1. Naomi May 27, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    This sounds a lot more brutal than the supposedly creepy book I’m reading right now. It sounds delightfully awful.

    • whatmeread May 27, 2015 / 12:29 pm

      It starts out more brutal than it finishes. And it’s not awful. It has more to it than revenge.

      • Naomi May 27, 2015 / 12:38 pm

        I meant awful in a good way. 🙂

      • whatmeread May 27, 2015 / 12:41 pm

        I knew that! 😉

    • whatmeread May 27, 2015 / 12:29 pm

      What’s your supposedly creepy book, BTW?

      • Naomi May 27, 2015 / 12:39 pm

        The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. I was hoping for a creepy page-turner, but so far, that’s not what it is. But, I’m not done yet…

      • whatmeread May 27, 2015 / 12:40 pm

        Hmm, haven’t read that one.

      • Naomi May 27, 2015 / 1:07 pm

        It’s relatively new. And Canadian. You will find out soon what I think of it – will be done soon!

  2. Jennygirl May 31, 2015 / 7:45 am

    this sounds like a page turner for sure. Thanks for bringing it to my attention and fora great review!

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