This debut novel, set in the early 1990s, is about Owen Webb, the son of working-class parents, receives a scholarship to the prestigious Rockcastle Preparatory Academy. He is befriended by the mysterious and enigmatic Carson Bly, an upperclassman from a wealthy and powerful family. Their friendship, deepened through a love of basketball, becomes an obsession for Owen. Desperate to avoid the growing trouble at home between his parents and falling in love with Carson’s beautiful but troubled sister, Owen quickly finds himself caught up in a complex web of events in which loyalty, tradition, power, and sex conflict with morality, love, and the truth.
During the summer before his sophomore year, Owen’s father is arrested for a shocking and unexpected crime. With his family torn apart, Owen’s anger and fear are carefully manipulated by Carson, whose mercurial personality becomes increasingly dangerous. When Carson is thrown off the basketball team and his behavior becomes more erratic, Owen’s friendship with him reaches a breaking point, and their once promising future begins to unravel in a tragic and unavoidable way.
Advanced praise for All the Castles Burned
“ALL THE CASTLES BURNED is a fierce and gleaming testament to what is possible when an outsider steps into the world of the privileged elite. A mind-blowing debut.”
—Fred Venturini, author of The Heart Does Not Grow Back
“Michael Nye’s work is like a richly detailed tapestry, the weaving intricate and compelling. The characters cause the actions because of who they are, and are revealed by what they do and what they fail to do. In other words, as in the best works in our literary canon, Nye’s characters and plots cannot be separated, and we would never want such a separation.”
—Mary Troy, author of Beauties and Swimming on Hwy N
“Michael Nye’s characters are sharp and memorable, and the writing is finely crafted. This is an auspicious and impressive debut novel.”
—John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake and The Inverted Forest
“An erudite tale of boyhood, class struggle, and heartbreaking nostalgia.”
—Levis Keltner, author of The Woods