RaveThe Globe and Mail (CAN)Mantel is a distinctive, assured teller, with a clear sense of what she wants to do and what she will avoid. In a popular culture of pace and action, Mantel instead offers depth and texture, nuance and immersion ... Mantel is not a writer with a marketer’s focus; she is one with immense intelligence and an attention to (and memory for) detail in a hugely crowded canvas—and those are, indeed, the principal strengths of Cromwell as she has created him. Mantel’s Cromwell is still rather perfect, as he was in the earlier books. He not only knows everything about everything and everyone, he is also the quickest in the room to react and hold Henry upright when the King takes ill ... Mantel is exceptionally skilled at letting plot arcs emerge gradually, as from the shadows of a palace chamber away from the fire ... The resolution here is beautifully unfolded ... Throughout, in fact, there is that feeling of a deeply skilled author working around and with the challenges of her narrative framework ... The novel here becomes an exercise in giving the reader a full-to-bursting sense of Cromwell’s world. It is done without any sense of ostentation, of showing off research ... The writing is acute, the observations clinical ... Vivid people have been created here: subtle, complex, fearful, greedy, treacherous, foolish, loyal—human.
RaveThe Washington Post...an elegantly written amalgam of nature writing, personal memoir, literary portrait and an examination of bereavement. Its considerable accomplishment is to hold all these parts in balance ... The threads are woven skillfully. We engage with the modern woman coping (badly, she makes clear) with loss, and also with T.H. White, beset by many demons. Both trying to become one with a raptor, to share in its force and freedom while engaged in the process of taking away that freedom ... This is a beautifully written and beautifully conceived work. It illuminates unexpected things in unexpected ways. There is also, at its heart, something quite wonderful: a book about a woman and her hawk and another tormented writer, and his is, also, movingly, a book about a daughter and her lost father.