PositiveThe Times (UK)Much to its credit, however, The Odyssey turns out to be something quite other than a seasick riff on Normal People. The characters, for one thing, are far from normal ... Williams has a deft touch in developing, by the accretion of small details, a sense of the strangeness of her characters and their situation — the feeling that all their gears are cranked just a few degrees short of sanity and that the world is spinning imperceptibly off its axis. It is also an interesting discovery that a novel that — with all its atmosphere of glib despondency and bodily dissociation — seems at first sight to be composed of the familiar materials of all interchangeable millennial fiction, in fact turns out to be about people who are barely in their right minds. Perhaps this is all part of a wicked literary trick Williams is trying to play on the kind of reader likely to be attracted to it.
RaveThe Times (UK)Young Mungo appears at first sight to be the second outing of a writer nervous of deviating from a winning recipe. Much of the novel’s social fabric and atmosphere is familiar ... This, though, is an altogether more accomplished novel, a touching story of forbidden love pursued in the face of sectarian violence with a plot that unfolds with all the urgency and dread of teenage yearning ... Where Shuggie Bain dwelt on captivity and the incorrigibility of its fallen characters, Young Mungo is about self-realisation and the possibility, however remote, of escape. The novel has some of the universal potency of a fairytale and it is a skilful thing to combine this, as Stuart does, with a very concrete sense of social reality.