Set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond, this novel explores the brutal legacy of violence and exploitation in American society as it examines the fates of the inhabitants of Beauvais Plantation and their descendants.
Midway through Kevin Powers’s gorgeous, devastating second novel, one of the protagonists reflects on what he believes to be 'the truth at the heart of every story, that violence is an original form of intimacy, and always has been, and will remain so forever.' It is certainly the truth at the heart of A Shout in the Ruins ... Powers details these inhumane acts with elegance, restraint and a refreshing absence of sentimentality. His spare, meticulous sentences lend a perverse beauty to even the most brutal passages of the novel and give immediacy and emotional heft to the ordeals of its characters ... A Shout in the Ruins, as its title suggests, lays bare the tremendous suffering on which our country was founded and demands its acknowledgment. But Powers also offers love and grace in these pages, and a prayer for redemption...if we can believe that 'though the conditions of the world may be very much as permanent and endless as the land on which we work, even those conditions can be improved with every season if worked rightly.' Amen to that.
A Shout in the Ruins is intricately plotted, but not strained or gimmicky. Powers uses suspense ably; even when the reader realizes something awful is about to happen, it's difficult to stop turning the pages ... His use of language in A Shout in the Ruins — inspired, perhaps, by William Faulkner — is nothing short of brilliant, and he connects with his characters in a very real way; he explores their psyches with an uncommon sensitivity ... a singular triumph of a book.
...a lacerating and elegiac—if at times uneven—novel about the lasting effects of human bondage ... While the story grows confusing at times...the author’s writing possesses the same intimate, lyrical power as his haunting debut ... This is a fine, relevant novel from a notable author.