A good, slow burn quest

Updated: Feb 27

It’s 1951 in rural North Dakota, and Margaret Blackledge has lost her only son, James.

Her last connection to him lies in her only grandchild, Jimmy. The only problem: her daughter-in-law, Lorna, has remarried to the handsome, but cruel, Donnie Weboy and moved back to his home state of Montana. If it wasn’t for little Jimmy, Margaret wouldn’t have given their moving away a second thought, but their moving robs her of having Jimmy close by. It doesn’t take long for Margaret to make it her mission to bring her grandson home.

Her retired sheriff husband, George Blackledge, thinks following Donnie and his new bride is asking for trouble, but Margaret could care less what he, or anyone, thinks when it comes to her grandbaby. George must make the choice between staying in the town he’s never left, or following his wife on what could potentially be a wild goose chase. Smart that man he is, he joins his passionate wife to track down and bring home their grandson. However, the journey is anything but easy, and the destination isn’t much sweeter. See, the Weboy family has taken a liking to little Jimmy, and unlucky for the Blackledge’s, if the Weboy’s abide by anything, it’s that they protect their own, no matter the cost.

I wouldn’t normally think to pick up a book like Let Him Go, but my family and I are friends with one of Larry Watson’s daughters. She knows what a bibliophile I am and was able to get a signed copy with a personalized message from her dad for my birthday this year. Can you say best gift ever? Plus with the movie adaptation coming out (in theaters now), I knew I had to read it.

The book’s main focus is on the bonds of family, both in the Weboy’s and the Blackledge’s. Personally, I tend to read books focused more on romantic relationships, which are also the books that seem to be marketed more heavily. Let Him Go was a nice change of pace for me, and I especially like how Watson approached the topic. He managed to emphasize the importance of family without shoving it down my throat: a delicate maneuver that not all authors are able to master.

Watson also does a wonderful job when it comes to supporting characters. While the main reason for their existence is to aid the Blackledges in their quest, they each have their own distinct personalities. Other quest-based adventures have supporting characters that help, but eventually fade into the background. Watson gives his supporting characters background stories, but not so much that it’s overwhelming to the reader. This is yet another fine line that he is able to walk where others stomp.

I’d highly recommend Let Him Go by Larry Watson to anyone looking for a good, slow burn quest story (but make it Western). And only after you’ve enjoyed the book can you go watch the movie.

Casey Larsen is an avid reader, but if you ask her what her favorite book is, you will likely get a different answer every time. She currently works part time in human resources and is pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in Literature. She hopes to one day work at a publishing house, helping future writers fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors. Between working and studying, she loves spending time with her friends, binging Netflix, and cuddling with her black lab puppy, Loki.