Lords of St. Thomas

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In December of 2002, a prolonged drought dramatically receded the waters of Lake Mead and exposed the bones of a flooded town that had rested quietly under the lake for nearly 70 years. The town, St. Thomas, had been abandoned since 1937 when its valley was flooded by the creation of the Hoover Dam. This is the fictionalized story of, fittingly enough, author Jackson Ellis’s family–the Lords–living in post-Depression era–you guessed it–St. Thomas, Nevada.

This is a slow-moving story, richly evocative of the open, sparse Nevada landscape. The narrator is a young boy growing up in a family whose complicated interpersonal relationships he’s struggling to understand. When news comes that their town will be flooded and that the government is offering to buy the resident’s property, the narrator’s grandfather stubbornly refuses to budge, insisting on clinging to the family house and property until the very moment the flood waters reach its doors. Little else happens plot-wise; the story instead explores the internal life of a lonely boy growing up in an even lonelier landscape poised on the edge of destruction.

Ellis’s writing is subdued and excels when evoking the landscape. The dialog and development of the characters is less successful and, as mentioned, relatively little happens in the story. This is an excellent read for capturing the sights, sounds, and feelings of late-1930s Nevada and experiencing the sense of helplessness and loss of people cornered by forces they can’t control. This will be less rewarding for readers who lack the patience for a slow and quiet plot.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 160 pages
Publisher Green Writers Press
Publish Date 2018-Mar-08
ISBN 9780999076682
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue October 2018
Category Historical Fiction


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