PositiveColumbia MagazineIt is easy to get so taken by Russell’s spooky-accurate description of what lack of sleep can do to a body, and a country, that Sleep Donation starts to feel like speculative journalism. There’s far more to this slim book, though ... Though Russell meticulously describes the intricacies of the epidemic and the protocol for donating sleep, she stops short of detailing what, exactly, is being taken from a donor ... The sense of impending annihilation pulses throughout the book; insomniacs describe the final throes of their condition as their Last Day, evoking religious cults and doomsday prophecies. At the same time, Russell leavens the apocalyptic with the familiar. The homeyness of the details...keeps the story grounded in reality ... In many ways, the entire novella functions as a sort of twisted bedtime story, something children might tell each other to scare themselves into staying awake.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Trans. by Lucia Graves
PanThe San Francisco ChronicleAt the end of nearly 500 pages of incest, murder, mistaken identity, crumbling mansions, robbed crypts, chaste maidens, wise mendicants and perverted politicians, the reader realizes that Zafon intends his story to be taken totally, utterly seriously. The reader must be forgiven for looking for literary high jinks in this otherwise tiring, meandering tale … After the first few encounters, Daniel's adventures take on a routine flavorlessness: He meets a tragically beautiful woman, or a constipated priest, or a demented governess, who provides him with another chapter in the saga of Carax. Inevitably, these stories, told in page after page of exposition, concern wealthy families ruined by evil appetites, forbidden love between beautiful youths, and vengeful patriarchs who lock their daughters up in drafty rooms of decaying mansions. For such a hefty book, The Shadow of the Wind contains very little direct action, and surprisingly few scenes.