MixedThe Chicago Review of BooksDunbar is King Lear re-imagined in the modern world. St. Aubyn — the acerbically witty author of the Patrick Melrose novels about family wealth, abuse, and deep psychological scars — is a nice match to take on Lear ...probably appeal more to those who remember the basic plot and premise of King Lear from a high school reading, rather than Shakespeare die-hards who deeply love what some consider the bard’s greatest tragedy ...first fifty pages of this novel show St. Aubyn at his best ...backstabbing intrigue is mildly interesting, but it’s too convoluted for such a short novel — it feels glossed over and cursory ... It’s a good read if you’ve enjoyed the series so far, or possibly a good starting point if you haven’t dove in quite yet.
PositiveThe Chicago Review of Books...a terrifically goofy romp that’s part Harry Potter (but with dragons), part Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles, a little Star Wars, maybe a dash of Game of Thrones, but mostly its own unique thing ... Effects doesn’t always follow cause in this novel, but that’s quite alright. I mean, we’re talking about teenage dragons here. Literal teenage dragons. The story’s whimsy and humor keep the plot moving ... This fantasy is mostly good fun. There’s a bit of a shift in the second half of the novel to short, breathless chapters as the action speeds up. These often feel less like they’re urging us on and more like they’re just rushed. And some certainly could’ve been trimmed from this 400-plus-page novel. But that’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of an overall enjoyable, hilarious, satisfyingly fun read.
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksForest Dark is really two novellas, connected by the theme of questing for meaning. Both of Krauss’s Jewish characters are struggling with life, and both decide to go to Israel to try to gain fresh perspective and puzzle out their problems ... Nicole is a profoundly introspective character, and Krauss plugs us directly into her brain with long, dense passages about everything from her weird sensation of being in two places at once to love and fidelity to her theories on narrative structure ... If you only had to read that once to understand it, and you liked what it means, you’ll probably love this novel. As well, if you possess more than a passing knowledge of Kafka’s work, you’ll probably get a kick out of what often reads like an inside joke for Kakfa fans.