PositiveThe Times... fascinating ... Cep has spliced together a Southern-gothic tale of multiple murder with the unhappy story of Lee’s literary career, to produce a tale that is engrossing in its detail and deeply poignant ... Cep writes with great skill, sensitivity and attention to detail. The book does, however, suffer from three substantial problems, two of them, admittedly, not of Cep’s making. One is the frustrating secrecy that still surrounds Lee, which means most papers about her remain under lock and key. There is, too, the dying fall of Lee’s own life, which leads to the book ending on a frustratingly low-key note ... The third fault, however, is Cep’s own, and has to do with the structure of the book, as we are introduced first to Maxwell, then Radney (someone who should probably have taken a narrative back seat) and finally, more than halfway through the story, to Lee herself, each time being taken back to what feels like the beginning. That this doesn’t fatally upend the whole project has much to do with Cep’s other skills as a narrator, and the intense fascination of the subject she’s writing about.
RaveThe Times (UK)\"...one of the most haunting and beautifully crafted novels I have read in a long time ... Some readers might find the premise of the novel (Bellman’s search for monsters) difficult to navigate, and just too quixotic. But, once you accept it, the novel blossoms. Davies, as she showed in her previous books, is immensely generous towards her characters — a gift of empathy that is hard to resist. She is comfortable, too, inhabiting different voices, and is subtle and rounded in her characterisation ... There is something of the fairy tale about Davies’s book. And like the best fairy tales, it is filled with wonder, about the natural world, and about humans and their impractical dreams. Davies has produced something quite wonderful in West. This is a gently seductive book, one that entrances right to its cleverly conceived end.\