PositiveThe Canberra Times (AUS)... oddly mesmerising ... a debate about identity and immigrants, history and home, aloneness and alienation, one which sometimes slows down an otherwise gripping story ... Zhang is a gifted magician. She has appropriated a sliver of the Old West, but with a twist ... Zhang, who is only 30 years old and used to work for a tech start-up, reveals quite grand ambitions for this first novel. Her Chinese immigrants do not work in the goldfields or on the railroad, as thousands did, but they do become heroes in their own story ... The children\'s initial journey in search of a burial site possesses an eerie, even surreal edge. When Zhang reverts to flashbacks of the Chinese family\'s life together, her tale becomes more prosaic, now and then, and a little leaden ... Throughout, Zhang reveals a remarkable gift for an arresting, idiosyncratic phrase. Many are good enough to stop a reader in her tracks, taking a moment to ponder and wonder ... Her themes are tugged together towards the end, in a brave and bold way which underlines a considerable talent. Readers should not just enjoy this book but wait expectantly for the next.
MixedThe Sydney Morning HeraldJacob\'s characters have a lot of fight in them, but they are also possessed of rather more capacity for inflection, for irony and for nuance. That conclusion holds true even when otherwise estimable characters take refuge behind a protective wall resembling \'a set of monster\'s dentures fallen from some other world and forgotten.\' Those dentures illustrate Jacob\'s somewhat quirky, loaded-up style ... Jacob does consistently better at descriptions than at dialogue. The reader is advised by the author how emotions work, rather than having the characters tell you themselves ... Her characters do have depth, but theirs is an oddly plotted and plumbed depth. They often become more affecting when they wander away into bizarre tangents, like an ageing lady convinced that movie stories continue in some private, off-screen world ... The fall Jacob imagines is too vertiginous for luxuries like a truly happy ending.