RaveThe Star Tribune... extravagantly imaginative ... Morgenstern’s major plot is the stuff of a bibliophile’s dreams, but she layers the narrative with snippets of fables and fairy tales, pieces in a meta-puzzle box that you may never figure out. Authorial flourishes and literary Easter eggs abound, allusions to illusions. There are nods to Tolkien and Sendak, Susanna Clarke and Lev Grossman, Grimm and Gaiman. The intricate world-building is nothing short of fabulous, the prose lush and filigreed. Still, it’s probably no accident that Patience and Fortitude, the lions at the entrance of the New York Public Library, make a cameo in the 500-page tale. Morgenstern knows every whichaway around story and myth, but you may well get lost in The Starless Sea. Bon voyage!
PositiveThe Star TribuneAlice Hoffman’s signature magical realism and lyrical chiaroscuro writing enhance The World That We Knew, a moving story of love and loss and resilience in the face of immense tragedy. As in her rich historical novel of the Masada, The Dovekeepers, Hoffman doesn’t shy away from war’s horrors, but her characters, especially Ava, are keenly aware of the beauties of the natural world and the small pleasures of the everyday ... a dark and lovely fable.
RaveThe Star TribuneSuch strange magic animates Orange World, Russell’s collection of eight new stories pulsing with imagination ... [Russell] bends reality with verbal dexterity, grafting the extraordinary to the mundane ... This juxtaposition of the fantastical with the everyday can result in the whimsy of \'The Tornado Auction,\' where a Nebraska farmer raises cyclones like broncos for a rodeo. Or it can turn bizarre as in the title story, in which a new mother bargains with the devil to ensure the health of her newborn ...Still, Russell is after more than shock value as she explores transformations and transitions ... risky, wondrous and weird.
MixedStar TribuneThese mysteries are involving...although somewhat predictable. What’s missing, though, are those 75 years between Virginia’s coming of age and her actual old age. A few scattered references to career and travel don’t give a true sense of a life fully lived. As it is, young, naive Virginia’s story is more interesting than that of the bitter octogenarian who wavers between wanting revenge and making amends. Other characters are enigmatic rather than complicated, while smarmy, mustachioed Deering is a cartoon villain. What Brooks gets right is her evocation of time and place ... It reminds me of another haunting wartime tale belonging to the marsh. Surely, it’s no accident that Virginia chooses as her 12th birthday present a copy of Paul Gallico’s The Snow Goose.
MixedMinneapolis Star Tribune\".... [a] new saga of substance ... Morton leisurely layers Gothic details with classic romantic suspense, shifting between past and present, spinning involving stories within stories ... Still, one wishes for more surprises in the crowded narrative. There’s enough material for several novels, and a couple of characters — little Lucy, Juliet the reporter — are worthy heroines on their own.\
PositiveStar TribuneThat the skeleton isn’t discovered until a third of the way through the 500-page novel testifies to French’s talent at immersing readers in mysteries that go beyond those of old bones ... French often writes about the mutability of memory and questions of identity ... Expected, too, are complex characters, spot-on dialogue, an atmospheric setting. But the pacing is slow and the tone reflective as [protagonist] Toby puzzles through the fragmented past.
Laura Van Den Berg
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune\"As in Van den Berg\'s short stories and her novel Find Me, the writing is lovely and fluid. She is comfortable with ambiguity, and The Third Hotel isn\'t intent on resolution. It reminds me of another hotel, that one in California, where \'you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.\' Haunting.\
PositiveStar Tribune[Horowitz is] up to some new tricks in The Word Is Murder, another entertaining puzzler full of red herrings and dead ends.... The mix of fact and fiction is mostly gossipy fun.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThink of it as a saga of a place depicted in gorgeous prose at specific points in the 17th century and then again in the 20th, eras of change and transformation ... With its clever juxtaposition of past and present and its meditation on time and change, Peculiar Ground is reminiscent of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. Walls and people come and go. Place abides.
MixedThe Minneapolis Star TribuneSimon and Klara are Benjamin’s more complex characters, and she casts a spell with the first half of her affecting family saga. Dull Daniel and anxious Varya, as involved as they are in matters of choice and chance, still can’t compete with their younger siblings’ candle-flame lives. That Daniel evaluates soldiers’ fitness for overseas combat seems contrived. Varya’s relationship with the monkey Freya is just plain sad. But then — as fate would have it — Benjamin plays a wild card. Aha! There’s more, but life should hold surprises.