When Scott Harvey sat down to write Savagely Noble, there’s no way to tell if he intended to create an emotional fable on what it means to be human. However, upon reading the novel, it’s clear that this work stands apart as a well-written gem of literature. Harvey’s personal voice rings throughout the novel, demonstrating a strange and elegant mix of aggressive personal philosophy and carefully cultivated word choices. He often takes the time to show the reader the world he has created, rambling with both the excitement of an eight-year-old and a captivating creative ability far beyond his years.
The story opens on our protagonist, the nineteen-year-old Bhanu, laying on his bed. He recounts all the events that have led up to this moment for his audience: being found in a hospital wrapped in a blue blanket, enjoying a pleasant childhood with two loving parents who know nothing about his origins, and finally, starting college amidst worrying nightmares about a past he knows nothing about. As the nightmares get worse and creep into his waking hours, Bhanu decides to visit the campus counseling center, a trip that brings him to the office of one Doctor Dietrich. In the novel, the doctor is portrayed as a man with a little too much insight into what is happening to Bhanu. The visit results in some startling twists, and in the end Bhanu is given information about a past he was never particularly curious about before. He is a member of an ancient and untouched bloodline, one that hasn’t seen the light of the modern world in thousands of years.
The revelation awakens a new hunger in Bhanu. He doesn’t act on his curiosity, though, until a dramatic series of events cause him to flee the only home he’s ever known to return to the place where it all began. That hospital where he was found so many years ago stops being a fantasy and abrupt becomes his only means of escape. His motivation? Unraveling the mysteries of his past and discovering his place in a world, a new home for a boy who has lost the meaning of the word.
Scott Harvey’s writing flows with all the elegance and power of a river, capturing any readers in its currents and sweeping them into a trance. Bhanu is a young man I’d like to sit down and talk to, which I consider a true testament to the author’s character building abilities. His descriptions are so vivid that at times, it feels as though the audience can see exactly how Bhanu views the world around him. However, despite my belief that this work is a jewel, not all that glitters holds as much value as it may appear to. Overall, the plot is solid, the protagonist is relatable and a dry sort of funny, and the writing is spectacular. However, the book should come with a serious warning to anyone who wants to read it; Harvey does not have any reservations when it comes to subjects that are taboo. His writing speaks to a lack of experience in certain subjects, a lack that causes him to write about rape, extreme bigotry, and murder with the same sort of casual dismissal that the rest of the world would discuss lunch. If the reader has personal experience with any of these subjects, they might find certain scenes in poor taste.
Overall, Savagely Noble holds the same amount of literary weight as Heart of Darkness, an impressive feat for a first-time novel. This book should be on the radar of anyone who enjoys psychological stories and has a thirst for the unknown and unexplored. It has the same impressive writing ability, and the captivating currents of the plot cannot be denied, nor can Harvey’s delightful gallows humor that peppers the pages. If you are a reader who can’t get enough of a philosophical approach to a modern-day adventure, then this book should make it to the top of your list. It is a beautiful, entrancing, entirely unique approach to the coming-of-age genre, and despite the harrowing scenes of violence and brutality, comes across as an elegant work of fiction. I would not be ashamed to have this novel on my bookshelf for all the world to see, and I would recommend it to anyone who expresses interest in the genre. Odds are that everyone who has read the book so far, myself included, are eagerly anticipating Scott Harvey’s next work.
SCOTT G. HARVEY teaches psychology at SUNY Buffalo State and resides in the Niagara Region of Ontario with an ever-changing mixture of humans, cats, dogs, and chickens.