Book Review: The Revenants by Scott Kauffman

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had a few things going on, but I happily got a lot of reading in! I’ve been reading Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman and I finally was able to sit down and read for more than hour!

*I was given a paperback copy of this book free by the author in exchange for an honest review

I almost declined the opportunity since I’m not a huge reader of war novels or stories 28399294related, but overall I’m glad I did take the chance to read it, even though there were a couple things I didn’t like.

Since this isn’t a super well-known book (yet, hopefully), I am going to provide the Goodreads description:

A grief-stricken candy-striper serving in a VA hospital following her brother’s death in Viet Nam struggles to return home an anonymous veteran of the Great War against the skullduggery of a congressman who not only controls the hospital as part of his small-town fiefdom but knows the name of her veteran. A name if revealed would end his political ambitions and his fifty-year marriage. In its retelling of Odysseus’ journey, Revenants casts a flickering candle upon the charon toll exacted not only from the families of those who fail to return home but of those who do.

When I read this description, I was expecting a thriller of sorts, you know the kind you see nowadays, where more than one life ends up in danger, usually the protagonist as the the search for the truth unfolds.

But Kauffman’s story is much more than that. It goes a little deeper. We mostly read and learn about Betsy’s story following the death of her brother, Nathan, who dies while on a second tour in Vietnam. We slowly learn and hear about the nameless Great War veteran and his story.

The Writing

I thought the writing was well done. There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes, but that didn’t take away from the story for me. The only thing is that I think there were some transitions missing because I got confused a few times when I was reading about Betsy and then suddenly I’m in a memory of her and her brother. Otherwise, the writing was good.

The Characters

As far as I know, Betsy seems like a typical teenager in the mid-seventies. I think Kauffman executed her reactions and behaviors really well. I liked her as a character – I got to see her become a stronger person even though she still had sadness all around her, particularly at home after her brother’s death.

We don’t learn much about her younger brother Bartholomew, but he seemed like a good kid. We also don’t learn a lot about their parents, but the father seemed to be very well grounded.

Another main character is a college aged reporter, Matt, who works at the local newspaper, owned by the congressman. I liked him, he initially just wants a story, but then comes to care for Betsy and wanting everything to work out in the end.

As suspected, you don’t like the congressman at all. He’s a reminder to me why I try to avoid politics. He’s very manipulative, arrogant, kind of mean, but smart too.

We get insight into the nameless veteran as well, as at some point his story gets told. Ultimately, we really just see a development with Betsy. To me, everyone else is secondary.

The Plot

The story is a retelling of sorts of The Odyssey. As it has been many years since I’ve read any portion of it, I can’t tell you how the different pieces from this story connect with The Odyssey. I will say that I really liked the story’s plot and thought the timeline overall was well executed. There were a couple parts in the first half where I got confused as to where I was time wise in relation to the beginning of the story which was mainly Nathan’s funeral. But those lapses were only within a few sentences. The story seemed like a good old fashioned mystery with all of these different puzzle pieces slowly fitting together with Betsy putting it all together.

What I Disliked

My problem with the story as a whole came at the end.

Betsy had all of this development or so it seemed. I think she used this mystery as a distraction from her own grief. Yes, she figured out the mystery and she helped all the other veterans that she swore to help and ‘get home’. It seemed like she got her life in order, but thens suddenly it shows that she didn’t. She ended up back right where she started before she was forced to volunteer as a candy-striper. It took her too long for her to ‘get home’. It would have made more sense for her to find out what she needed to live. But oh well.

Overall I think it is beautifully written and shows both sides of what war can do with an intriguing mystery connecting two different wars that left destruction in their wake; shows how different people dealt with that destruction and grief.

So, what do you think? Intrigued? 

Don’t forget to check out the Goodreads page!



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