MixedThe Times (UK)Schott, renowned for his miscellanies and almanacs, has produced a further sequel subtitled \'an homage\'. How well does it mimic the master? The answer is almost too lavishly. Capturing Wodehouse’s modes of wit, Schott adds others ... Splendid stuff, but the mixture is too rich. Protracted set pieces — a rowdy game of croquet, high jinks at the races — outstay their welcome ... References to films of the era jostle with allusions to The Shining or Goodfellas. It’s deliberate — some of the gags are glossed by Schott in skittishly erudite endnotes. Yet, less homage than upstaging, Schott’s razzle-dazzle might blind you to the original.
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)With its tense plot and familiar characters, some readers may anticipate the novel’s own parabolic curve. But this means it offers the satisfactions we expect. Spies and informers lurk. Period details are piquant, but not overdone ... Technical sections about the rockets, though occasionally droning, are astonishingly precise. Above all there’s suspense. As Graf and Kay plot and counterplot, questions rise and fall like rockets ... V2 will keep you pinned on a compelling trajectory.
MixedThe Times (UK)\"Although this central conceit is ingenious, the novel’s keynote is not consolation but escalating atrocity. After the hideous plane crash, we have Wilkins’s heart attack, the claustrophobic panic of a coffined woman, smashed arms, severed tongues, skinned senators and wolves yanking out a man’s lungs. As in Haddon’s short stories, the cumulative effect is of overkill, the relentless piling up of painful detail. Shakespeare’s late plays such as Pericles contain horrors and redemption, but Haddon goes mainly for the horrors.\
MixedThe Times (UK)\"[The book\'s] familiar elements are filtered, though, through a mythological apparatus unfamiliar to many westerners ... The ambition is impressive. Taking typical features of realist fiction — solid social settings, plausible motives — Obioma surrounds them with those of epic poetry — men and spirits interacting, cyclical stories of ordeal and return ... Does it work? It certainly conjures up an eerie cosmos in which a human’s thoughts and actions are charged with transcendent significance. The trouble is that Obioma’s commitment to \'eloquent intensity\' generates not only maddening repetition but laboured aggrandisement ... Descriptions of the spirit world... read like tests of vocabulary ... But despite flashes of searing brilliance, most of this novel reads sluggishly — its realist pages pedestrian, its supernatural detours like wading through astral sludge.\
PositiveThe Times...it combines comedy with social criticism, playfulness with political indictment ... For all its wit and whimsy, Winter suggests we are living through an era of lowering catastrophe in which green shoots are seldom seen ... Winter is partly a Christmas book like those pioneered by Dickens (it alludes throughout to A Christmas Carol). Like them, it mixes fantasy with moral exhortation, sounding both mannered and didactic ... Smith is a self-consciously aesthetic writer ... Artiness and preachiness can be an awkward mixture ... Parts of Winter read as if Virginia Woolf had written the Green Party manifesto.