In 1914, with the world on the brink of war, Isaac, a nature-loving artist whose past is mysterious to all, including himself, meets Kemper, a defiant heiress caught in the rivalry between her brothers.
The New Inheritors is the third mesmerizing historical novel by Kent Wascom, all of them set around the rim of the gulf and tracing an American dynasty, a family that begins with a penniless pioneer and, in three generations, accrues great wealth and bloody secrets ... His style and subjects echo great Southern writers like William Faulkner and Harry Crews, continuing a tradition of recounting terrible things in deliriously beautiful language.
The third in a projected quartet, following Secessia (2015), Wascom’s latest literary saga is his strongest yet ... Wascom’s writing burns with a raw, elemental power. The story encompasses the era’s white privilege and anti-immigrant stances, letting readers make the contemporary connections, while pondering what it means to be American.
Wascom writes stunning prose, especially of the seascape and shorebirds that Isaac loves to draw; the author portrays the New Orleans underworld and soldiers of fortune in equally vivid terms. Violence is a crucial element, and there’s plenty of it. Wascom apparently wishes to show how greed, lust for power, and jealousy cause bloodletting, and how new life blithely occupies the space once held by the dead ... With a brilliant exception of the scenes during the war years, The New Inheritors evokes no particular era and thus feels groundless as historical fiction. I’m not sure the marvelous prose rescues the book for lovers of the literary, either; I found it a struggle to finish.