I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Sumner Wilson’s A House of Men, a Five Star Frontier Fiction novel scheduled for release in December 2017. Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review this excellent story.
A House of Men is about Steel Fixx and his family and their ongoing conflict with Hotus Rust, Steel’s cousin. Steel is married and has three sons and a daughter. At first, life is good for Steel’s family. The daughter is treasured, the boys strong and reliable. One son, Clive, is described as “…always bursting with happiness and joy like a seedpod with split seams, its fluffy seeds spilling out in a hefty breeze.”
The Fixx family walks a moral high ground when compared to Hotus and his wayward but favored youngest son, Jorod, but the cousins have avoided all-out war…until Jorod and Molly Fixx get to know each other a little too well. Molly gets pregnant and Jorod promises to marry her. He fails to follow through, however, wandering off to enjoy his whiskey and whores instead.
Steel’s moral high ground begins to get a little shaky here. He and his oldest sons set out to trap Jorod in the open. Steel administers a whipping that convinces Jorod to do the right thing if he wants to survive Steel’s wrath.
Three children later, Molly dies in childbirth while Jorod is away, having returned to his old life of women and drink. Steel’s rage festers for a long time, but he tries to satisfy his grief by taking Molly and Jorod’s three children away to raise them in the Steel household. Hotus Rust becomes obsessed with getting the children back.
Suppressed rage is dangerous, and revenge is a slippery slope. The downhill slide into hatred and violence, fueled by the deeply disturbed old man Hotus Rust, leads the Fixx family into unimaginable tragedy.
A House of Men is a thought-provoking story that kept me turning the pages as I worried about Steel’s family and what was going to happen. It’s not just a Western, it’s a mainstream novel that just happens to be set in Missouri in the late 1800s. Highly recommended.