Set in the gutted, devastated remains of the American South in the months following the conclusion of the Civil War, Son of Perdition follows a Union soldier named Samuel Glazer as he tracks down the Confederate guerillas that brutally murdered his family.
Glazer, however, is no ordinary man, and his unholy quest for vengeance is as insatiable as it is destructive.
Former sheriff and Confederate soldier Lee Sinclair wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a blacksmith. When he returned from the war unharmed, he promised his wife Kate that he would never again put himself in harm's way.
But when Glazer brutally murders a local family, Lee is blackmailed by a rich plantation owner into pursuing Glazer. Accompanied by two psychotic bounty hunters, Lee soon realizes that this is more than a simple manhunt: It's a journey through the darkest recesses of a land shattered by war.
Plot: Set in an evocative historical setting, this novel casts a spell on readers. Harms effectively builds and sustains tension, allowing the story to unfurl in a manner that feels both organic and finessed. A rather hasty conclusion detracts somewhat from the otherwise gracefully paced narrative.
Prose/Style: The author's polished prose revives what might otherwise be a standard tale of brutality and revenge; Harms writes with a rolling staccato and a minimalism that is sharply resonant.
Originality: Harms delivers an atmospheric narrative enriched by incisive descriptions and a vivid sense of place. The novel is reminiscent of classic westerns in terms of structure, tone, and plot elements, but its literary undercurrents allow it to stand apart. Readers may draw comparisons to Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers.
Character Development: Character development is implemented well here, but is secondary to the novel's rich sense of place and its deeply visceral descriptions. Individuals seem almost to be extensions of the landscape of the American South rather than wholly formed individuals--an attribute of the novel that is not necessarily a detriment.
Date Submitted: August 13, 2019