Excerpt from The People of the Broken Neck by Silas Dent Zobal, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The People of the Broken Neck

by Silas Dent Zobal

The People of the Broken Neck by Silas Dent Zobal X
The People of the Broken Neck by Silas Dent Zobal
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Oct 2016, 352 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt from The People of the Broken Neck, by Silas Dent Zobal. © 2016 by Silas Dent Zobal. All rights reserved.

The People of the Broken Neck

AT NIGHT THE TILLED EARTH looked like a black lake. A stand of trees sheltered on the near side of the field and on the far side was a log cabin. The long branches of the trees leaned against the ground and something as dark as oil dripped from their tips. When the halogen lights began to sweep the inside of the cabin, the father did not rise from where he hunkered between his daughter and his son beneath the hollow pine. On each of them he rested one of his hands. The ground beneath them was still stiff with late-March cold and the scent of wood smoke drifting from their cabin smelled like his children's sleeping skins.

Down the hill, past the line of willows and the hollow pine and the plum tree, the Susquehanna River coiled like a black rope. Above them something moved in the branches. Something that moved quickly with unseen claws scraping against unseen bark. The wind brushed dead leaves off the ground, and the moon came and went, and the blossoms of the plum tree lifted and settled again like a thousand shushing tongues.

The cabin's screen door opened and closed with a metallic crack and two man-shaped shadows stumbled forward as though tethered to the narrow ends of their beams of light. A crackle of static on a handheld radio. The distance between the father's ear and the log cabin stripped away the particulars of enunciation, the likely raised vowels of easterners, and what was left was pared down to the bark of anger in a man's voice. Bootfall against stone. Headlamps appeared and a guttural engine sparked to life as if it was inside his chest, and then the gravel lane pattered and cracked behind the wheels and the headlamps circled back toward the dark, flat line of the road.

The father said the names of his children to himself under his breath. A kind of incantation to keep them safe. The older, the boy, he called "Clarke." The younger, the girl, "King," short for Kingsley. The cuneiform of his two kids in their downy sleeping bags looked sunken in rather than risen up. Like impressions in the ground.

NOTHING HERE. The first man into the cabin had known it from the start. Empty. He swung his halogen flashlight back and forth. There was nothing. He lightfooted through the dining room. A table and four chairs. A clock on the wall that did not keep time. A second man shadowed the first like an obedient dog. They rifled the medicine cabinet, then the first man stopped in the center of the living room and listened. Again, nothing. It was a small house. A cabin. He touched the black woodstove. Still warm. He wiped the sweat from his lips. He was tired of hunting men who'd mucked up their lives, who'd done things wrong. He played the light around the children's room. Unmade bunks. Baseball gloves. Sock monkeys. A worn doll. Spine-snapped books on a shelf of cement block and pine two-by-sixes. The first man put one hand to his neck. His skin felt hot enough to mold into a new shape. He wanted to go home to his wife and their cool sheets and their new bed. He opened the refrigerator in the kitchen. The second man leaned over him, breathing heavily. Two hot dogs. Leftover macaroni and cheese, no mold. No hot dog buns. His nylon jacket swished as he turned. The second man scrambled back, his shoe slipping on the vinyl floor. The second man fell sideways until the first man reached out to catch him by his forearm. Still, the second man's upper lip caught the corner of the countertop. The flesh split. When the second man straightened, the first man shook his head. One drop of dark blood fell. Two drops of blood. The first man stepped out on the porch and looked out. His flashlight petered into the darkness. The night was like a foreign sound. He put his hands in the pockets of his nylon jacket. "Let's go," he said to the second man. "There's nothing here."

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The People of the Broken Neck, by Silas Dent Zobal. © 2016 by Silas Dent Zobal. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  America's First Ransom Note

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more

Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...
  • Book Jacket: My Heart Underwater
    My Heart Underwater
    by Laurel Fantauzzo
    Corazon — Cory — Tagubio is a Filipina-American teenager living with her family in ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Sun
    Black Sun
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Reading the first book in a series is always difficult because readers know that, by definition, it ...
  • Book Jacket: Somewhere in the Unknown World
    Somewhere in the Unknown World
    by Kao Kalia Yang
    Resettled refugees are mostly invisible. Their needs are rarely publicized and their struggles are ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Charlotte McConaghy

    An instant bestseller set on the brink of catastrophe, for readers of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.



Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.