BookBrowse Reviews The Kept by James Scott

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The Kept

by James Scott

The Kept
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2015, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

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Elements of Southern Gothic writing infuse this impressive – if convoluted – debut set in 19th century New York.

At the beginning of his debut novel The Kept, one of James Scott's main characters, Elspeth Howell, is described as a sinner whose multitude of transgressions involve anger, covetousness and thievery. The events leading up to her sinfulness, along with the consequences of her evil deeds, are the driving forces behind this suspenseful tale.

Scott's sharp eye for detail and strong sense of place are amply employed in this work, which shrewdly borrows from many Southern Gothic traditions - particularly bleak settings; violence; and eccentric, flawed characters. New York, near the end of the 19th century, is the potently grim setting. With this eastern locale, Scott infuses the genre with finely crafted sentences and scenes that by turns are disturbing, poignant, creepy, and sometimes delightfully bizarre.

As the book opens, Elspeth has been away from her family and farmhouse for four ...

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