RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIlluminating and keen ... Yevgenia is unforgettable. Biting, lewd and brilliant, she’s the life of the party for one person while for another, she’s the person who sucks the oxygen out of the room ... A master class of a bildungsroman ... Like childhood, Angel-Ajani’s novel is alternately horrifying and spellbinding in its lessons about love, family and growing up.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewExquisite ... Though the novel’s most obvious selling point is its reimagining of Chopin and George’s brief and disastrous time on Mallorca, Blanca is the story’s heart. She’s a charming, witty character whose vulnerability and occasional gloom make her an irresistible narrator. ... The story of Blanca’s life unfurls alongside the story of her death, and the tragedy that kills her collides spectacularly with the strange new hope she discovers amid the wreckage of the monastery at the novel’s end. I confess: I cried. The entire novel is imbued with reverence for small moments ... Overwhelming, too lovely to bear.
PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewDespite its heavy subject matter, the novel is a light and easy read, the sort of book you’d pick up while kicking back in an Adirondack chair and sipping a gin and tonic. Shantanu is a lovable mess whose dependence upon Froot Loops for sustenance and emotional support I found delightfully relatable ... Though charming, the first half of the book is imperfect, with a comically evil father figure and an unnecessary subplot about a character’s past life as a thief threatening to derail the story. The novel is stronger in the second act ... Keya and Pamela’s script...is convincing in its portrayal of adolescent fury and is poetic and wise in that accidental way that only art made by children can be, their insight guileless and unsullied by pretension.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewVibrant, funny ... Bazawule...is juggling a lot here. The novel tackles colonialism, racism and misogyny; interspersed throughout its classic thriller structure are bizarre scenes of magical transformation ... Yet the novel is skillfully crafted, never buckling beneath the weight of its ambition, with an unflagging sense of humor that prevents the story from straying into self-seriousness.
J. R. Thorp
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn luscious prose, Thorp explores the nameless queen’s untold story, one that—in keeping with the spirit of Shakespeare’s original—is rife with cruelty, betrayal and passion ... Learwife is gorgeously written, its language ornate and heady ... Thorp carefully embeds clues to Queen’s banishment within her alarming memories of her children ... Thorp doesn’t abandon the theme of greed in Shakespeare’s play, but she does flesh it out to reveal how desperate the women in King Lear would have been for any scrap of agency in their lives. The novel’s scenes with Queen and her daughters are its most affecting; I wish Thorp had given us more ... Though Thorp ratchets up the tension three-quarters of the way through, readers would have been better served if she had inserted more suspense among the stunning early descriptions of life at the abbey. Thorp applies subtle pressure when what the story needed, at times, was a firm shove. But the novel’s crest and denouement are artful and moving ... it’s a beautiful triumph nonetheless.
PositiveNew York Times Book Review[Baker\'s] critique of the heteronormative American family and the malicious ways men uphold sexist power structures is straightforward and unsubtle ... There are no astonishing twists in The Husbands; anyone who’s read The Stepford Wives (or watched the movie) will have an idea how this ends. Still, I found myself holding my breath ... It’s a testament to Baker’s talents as a writer that the final scenes of this familiar story are a gut punch nonetheless. She has a gift for depicting flawed, desperate characters.