book cover of The Madstone
Added by 6 members
 

The Madstone

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
“A wonderfully transporting tale of love in the Old West” (People Magazine) and “a brilliant, beautiful page-turner” (Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Double Blind) about a pregnant young mother, her child, and the frontier tradesman who helps them flee vengeful outlaws, in a work that echoes Lonesome Dove and News of the World.

Texas hill country, 1868. As nineteen-year-old Benjamin Shreve tends to business in his workshop, he witnesses a stagecoach strand a passenger. When the man, a treasure hunter, persuades Benjamin to help track down the vanished coach—and a mysterious fortune left aboard—Benjamin is drawn into a drama whose scope he could never have imagined, for they discover on reaching the coach that its passengers include Nell, a pregnant young woman, and her four-year-old son, Tot, who are fleeing Nell’s brutal husband and his murderous brothers.

Having told the Freedmen’s Bureau the whereabouts of her husband’s gang—a sadistic group wanted for countless acts of harassment and violence against Black citizens—Nell is in grave danger. If her husband catches her, he will kill her and take their son. Learning of their plight, Benjamin offers to deliver Nell and Tot to a distant port on the Gulf of Mexico, where they can board a ship to safety. He is joined in this chivalrous act by two other companions: the treasure hunter whose stranding began this endeavor and a restless Black Seminole who is a veteran of wars on both sides of the Rio Grande and who has an escape plan of his own.

Fraught with jeopardy from the outset, the trek across Texas becomes still more dangerous as buried secrets, including a cursed necklace, emerge. And even as Benjamin falls in love with Nell and imagines a life as Tot’s father, vengeful pursuers are never far behind. With its vivid characters and expansive canvas,
The Madstone calls to mind Lonesome Dove, yet Elizabeth Crook’s new novel is a singular achievement. Told in Benjamin’s resolute and unforgettable voice, it is full of eccentric action, unrelenting peril, and droll humor—a thrilling and beautifully rendered story of three people sharing a hazardous and defining journey that will forever bind them together.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"The Madstone is a treasure: a brilliant, beautiful page-turner of a book. Elizabeth Crook has reimagined the Western, giving us a poignant love story and a riveting road novel. I devoured it--and you will, too." - Chris Bohjalian

"The Madstone is a wonderful book. The tale that Elizabeth Crook conjures out of the most basic materials--a man goes on a trip, things happen, and the trip becomes a quest--should take its place alongside the very best novels of the American West, a top rank that includes Lonesome Dove, Little Big Man, News of the World, and Blood Meridian. Yes, it's that good; I didn't want it to end. Benjamin Shreve and his compatriots affected me as few characters have in recent years, and I think of them still." - Ben Fountain

"Elizabeth Crook is a magician of a novelist, bringing the past to life with a tale of epic proportions that must be read to be believed. The voice of Benjamin Shreve stands alone in recent fiction, and all of Crook's characters linger long after you've finished reading. The Madstone is a marvel." - Nathan Harris

"A multilayered tale . . . Benjamin Shreve, the teenage narrator of The Which Way Tree, unspools his tale of Civil War-era Texas in a voice that is utterly convincing, consistent, and believable. Crook never slips out of that voice for a moment. This is no small feat given that the tale involves Benjamin's demented half sister, the infamous massacre of Union-sympathizing German immigrants by local Confederates, and a giant panther. Any first-person voice involving a young Southern boy invites comparisons to Huck Finn. But dialects have complexities and Crook appears to be a master of them. Benjamin's voice swings between the rhythms of the Southern hills and the lofty, elevated tone encountered in Twain and contemporary Westerns . . . His speech can switch from hyperbole to understatement in the same sentence--and it is a wonderfully deadpan understatement . . . The language is arresting . . . The Which Way Tree is a commendable and very readable addition to the tale-spinning tradition and its beautiful use of language." - Paulette Jiles

"It would be unfair to call Elizabeth Crook the true heir to Paulette Jiles, Charles Portis, and Larry McMurtry, because Crook's style is emphatically her own, but I want to anyway because she's just so damn good. The Madstone, one long riveting epistle that reads like music, has a fully formed voice in its young narrator, pitch-perfect dialogue, and wit as dry as a mesquite tree. I would read, and will continue to read, anything Crook writes." - Nathaniel Ian Miller


Visitors also looked at these books


Used availability for Elizabeth Crook's The Madstone


About Fantastic Fiction       Information for Authors