PositiveThe Guardian (UK)This pacy piece of Victorian crime fiction delivers chills galore ... Kidd’s research is worn lightly, with occasional real names dropped in for orientation...But her imagination rides wild, in tightly controlled prose. Her concision makes the book feel like a high-pressure jar, stuffed with frightening specimens including a knife-wielding rogue surgeon ... That most handed-down of tropes, the mermaid, is refreshed here into a merrow, a magical creature who affects the weather and the emotions of all who look on her. If the book is reminiscent of other successes, this is hardly Kidd’s fault: it was no doubt in gestation before these works appeared. Authors can be sensitive to literary fashions in a profound way, on-trend because they inhale and exhale the cultural mood. But ultimately a lot of this feels familiar, even as it strives to be strange, with its supporting cast of liberated circus performers, choreographed ravens and noisy parrots. Still, it is well worth the price of admission.
Imogen Hermes Gowar
RaveThe Guardian\"There are deep currents roiling here, but the book takes its time setting them in motion. On the whole, investment by the reader is amply repaid. The author swims like a fish in Georgian cant and vocabulary. She has worked in museums and looks perceptively and attentively at objects, as well as exploring the line between sham and showmanship, sincerity and sensationalism, promoting and pimping ... There is much to chew on here, and much to savour, presented with wit and showmanship. Would that showmanship were a gender-neutral word, though, because all the elan of this book is female, from the madams running their girls, to the book’s most obvious literary forebear, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus. Imogen Hermes Gowar delights in the feminine fakery of mermaids, but as a writer she is the real deal.\
RaveThe Guardian\"The overall effect [of the book] is zany, experimental and unmistakably 2018 ... Rosenberg is far too clever not to be aware of these pitfalls [with regrd to historical fiction], and he incorporates them into this bawdy, ticklish, witty book, playing off unreliable narrators and parallel transgender narratives ... Weird, exuberant metaphors abound. The children of a passing aristocrat are described as \'too-handsomely attired, orbiting him like Expressionless gas-filled balloons\'. No one could call this novel underwritten ... Rosenberg has created an 18th-century riddle wrapped in a 21st-century enigma. Anyone with a head for postmodern heights will revel in it.\
PositiveThe Guardian\"Matt Haig has a real feeling for what it is to be an outsider, and makes you entirely believe in the weariness of the centuries-old \'albas\' (albatrosses) secretly living among the rest of us giddily short-lived \'mays\' (mayflies) ... From the difficulties of joining Facebook to knowing asides on the dreadful circularity of history, the novel milks its central conceit for all it is worth ... Conspiracy rears its head as a Bond-style baddie called Hendrich, a 900-year-old bully, claims to be protecting the albas from biotech entrepreneurs who want their stem cells. The energy and zip of this book are hard to resist. And it also provides the most convincing explanation yet for the skills of jazz pianists: they are, of course, 300 years old.\