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on February 9, 2014
To describe all that a mother and young son went thru while walking in a blizzard across frozen, barren land to find the killers of their family would be difficult. First of all the mother's survival after a near fatal gun shot wound was in the realm of miraculous. Suffering one insult after another made me pray they found who they were looking for. The story gripped me and I read with great interest.

Reaching the end I was stunned. I actually went back a few pages to reach the end again as I thought I had missed something. The end was such a disappointment I felt like I wasted my time reading this novel. The writing and descriptions occurring in great depth through out this book were well done but I would have loved to see a more satisfying ending for all they went through.
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on November 19, 2016
A well-written book, but I didn't care for the story. It wasn't the violence per se that bothered me--I'm a big fan of some pretty gory crime novels. But a crime novel holds out the hope that despite the graphic violence, there's probably going to be some kind of more-or-less satisfying end to the story. I could tell from the time the first body turned up that this story was not going to end well for the protagonist(s). The author has a lot of talent; this story just wasn't my cup of tea. I suppose I'd really give it 3.5 stars.
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on May 23, 2014
Ok...I'll tell you that this book is not what I expected when I began reading it. The author lets you into the life of a dysfunctional family, to say the least & takes you along their journey of growth. I really don't want to spoil the few surprises that are in the book but what I will say is that the author did a great job with his imagery. I felt the characters came to life through his storytelling and I really enjoyed his ability to be so descriptive in the scenes. This is a dark tale....I didn't know that when I began this book but it was able to hold my interest. I didn't understand why he had some of the religious references made throughout the book.....they didn't seem to fit however there were few times when it was relevant. I was disappointed in the ending...kinda wanted more after what both the mother & son had endured. The good thing about this book is that it keeps you reading while you are reading it but once you put it down you may need a little incentive to pick it back up. Not a bad read.....just need a little patience, don't get caught up in religious references and enjoy how vividly clear the author describes the scenes for you. Good luck!
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on January 31, 2014
Like many other reviewers here, I was immediately taken in by not just the story itself, but also the method in which James Scott delivers it. Each element is presented in delicate layers and their purpose in the story is slowly brought into focus. It's this subtle and methodical delivery of each facet that drives 'The Kept' and draws the reader along in it's gentle but widening wake. The lead characters, Elspeth and Caleb endure some of the most grueling circumstances that you can't help but get caught up in their quest as they search out those who inflicted such misery on them. Watersbridge, where the majority of the story plays out, is also painted as a hardscrabble place that reflects the conditions of life in the early 1900's.

The problem I have with the book is that there seems to be a turning point for both of the main characters where their destiny should nudge them in a better direction, but Scott chooses to emphasize the negative undercurrent in the tale and has Elspeth and Caleb behaving in a manner that defies logic or expectations. Perhaps that what was intended all along? For me, it just didn't work. Otherwise, this was a decent read.
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on October 5, 2017
It took me a long time to finish this book. Like a really long time. It's a good story. I'm not quite sure I understand the ending, which was a little disappointing after having read the whole book. The characters are fleshed out really well, and quite memorable. It's just not my typical book to read, and therein may lie the reason it took me so long to finish. I just wasn't invested in it. Now...moving on......
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on February 8, 2014
This is a chilling tale with many surprises and a lot of violence. I bought the book because this new author was being compared to Cormack McCarthy, a favorite author of mine. Indeed the story is gripping and there are some interesting turns of phrase and there are some twists and turns in the story that keep your engaged and shocked.
I give the writing less than five stars because I find the excessive and unending violence and pain to be finally annoying. And there are some, but very few, redeeming characteristics to these characters. Basically all are very flawed. It is hard to find goodness anywhere in this sad, sad tale. Practically every sin you can think of is packed in here. Even the hopes of the main characters are to find a way to murder the men who murdered their family. Or to be revealed in their own evil.
So no one in this story seems to have any concept of joy or love. A tiny bit of kindness creeps in here and there, but it is tiny and far apart and never gets nourished, only disappointed.
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on February 20, 2014
James Scott's writing demonstrates a powerful literary talent. He sweeps us into a world whose immediacy grips from beginning to end, with a relentless and focused pace toward a satisfying conclusion. Caleb's and his mother's goals' divergence are part of the plot twists, yet we believe in the strengthening of their bond even as their separate discoveries and hidden narratives threaten to break them apart. The painful silences shared by mother and son, highlighted by their awkward necessary alliance, resonate in a contemporary way. The novel probes the meaning of ethnicity, family, religion, community, industry and its collateral damages, sexual politics, and the fledgling sense of nation America: all this without telling, simply showing in an incredibly gripping journey. Five stars for a remarkable, unforgettable story. Best I've read in years.
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on February 22, 2014
Literary critics might work themselves into a frenzy trying to analyze this book, but I simply found it to be a well written and easy to read novel. It contained some interesting scenarios and left enough questions unanswered to make it seem mysterious and "dark" so that the critics wouldn't know whether it was great or just good. Very effective technique, if that's what the author was intentionally trying to do, but he's hardly the first to use it.

It's really suited to certain tastes. I suspect that Cormac McCarthy fans will like it okay, but Philip Roth fans won't. (I actually love both of these writers, so they might not really be the best examples, but I'm betting that many readers don't.) In the McCarthy corner, it's not on the level of Suttre or Blood Meridian, but might fall somewhere between Outer Dark, which I loved, and Child of God, which was just okay. Better than Cities of the Plain for sure.
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on February 18, 2014
At the start of this book the action is fast and the plot line original. I really wanted to know "what's next?" But the book seemed to go slower and slower from that point until I more wondered "will I ever find out and will I care?" My major problem with the book is its lack of plausibility. People are murdered, and left about, with little or no consequences whatever. Surely even in that time period (turn of the 20th century) and even the the remote area in which the plot is set, there were police, sheriffs, marshals, vigilantes, SOMETHING.The story line of the mother, posing as a man didn't seem convincing either. The book finally flickered out in a unsatisfactory manner, to me. One star for originality, one more for good writing style and characterization, but I just couldn't swallow the plot.
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on February 5, 2014
I enjoy books that are page-turners, that captivate me and propel me toward their conclusion. "The Kept" certainly did that. At the same time, I didn't want it to end. The style was so rich, the characters so interesting to be with, the mood invoked so intimate that I wanted to dwell on the pages.

I keep a list of the most memorable novels I've read during the past sixty years. These are the few novels that change the way I look at and feel about life. They dwell with me long years after I've spent enjoyable time with them. "The Kept" is the latest on that list.
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