RaveThe GuardianBoyne’s sombre 2014 novel A History of Loneliness anatomised such corruption and abuse, and he returns to track these seismic changes in Irish society with a broader, bawdier and more comedic sweep of narrative in The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Historical figures mingle with fictional ones, words are put into mouths, gossip simmers and reputations shudder crazily ... The narrative energy flags somewhat as Cyril’s story approaches the present day. Boyne’s fictional portrait of postwar Ireland and its people is nightmarish but utterly compelling. While the 21st century may be a much better place to live, it doesn’t seem to charge Boyne’s imagination with the same force. The Irish people vote in favour of gay marriage in a referendum. Some of the ghosts of the past are appeased, but it is the sorrows of those ghosts that dominate the novel and cannot be woven into a fabric of restitution or hope. Boyne’s enraged vision is his great strength in The Heart’s Invisible Furies. The appalling comedy of Cyril’s childhood and youth, the vigour, the mess, the stir and life and horror of it all form the heart of a substantial achievement.
PositiveThe Guardian[The] roundup and its aftermath are described with hallucinatory vividness, in a way that is filmic and exterior rather than penetrative ... Ukraine, a land of black, fertile soil, farms, orchards and marshland, becomes as vital as any human character in the novel. This territory is a breadbasket, yet the instinct of its invaders is to disrupt, damage, destroy. Seiffert never belabours her point, but instead demonstrates the sheer illogicality of a control system that turns the growing of food into a dangerous negotiation of curfews and restrictions ... Seiffert’s cool tone never wavers, and her spare, beautiful prose is a joy to read. One flaw is that while her characters are intensely present physically, they are less available to the reader emotionally. This can lead to a certain detachment, where engagement might have made a very good novel into an outstanding one.
PositiveThe GuardianEveryone Brave Is Forgiven is essentially a story about what courage is, and how it reveals itself under pressure. While it lacks the hallucinatory brilliance of Bowen’s The Demon Lover or the emotional power and complexity of Waters’ The Night Watch, it is an absorbing, sharply paced novel.
MixedThe GuardianThe strength of The North Water lies in its well-researched detail and persuasive descriptions of the cold, violence, cruelty and the raw, bloody business of whale-killing ... Violence is so prolific that it becomes routine. Any novel set on a whaler is bound to raise comparisons with Moby-Dick, and McGuire’s characters, caged as they are within their grim destinies, lack the superb elasticity and vitality that make Melville’s most tragic passages shine.