RaveThe Austin Chronicle... a generous sympathy for every one of its many wayward characters ... The very idea of a hen heist on that scale is in itself laughable, not to mention implausible, and Unferth does nothing to put lipstick on that fowl. What she does do – and in a way that is unexpectedly endearing – is show us how this band of ragtag malcontents commit to it and almost pull off the damn thing ... even as Unferth gets us laughing, she gets us to care ... Unferth not only gives us details about the supporting characters in this tale, she frequently lets us see how it\'s playing out through their eyes ... Unferth\'s inventive, engaging approach is like the eyes of a chicken as she describes them: \'They work separately, have multiple objects of focus. When they cock their heads, they\'re getting a series of snapshots from different perspectives\' ... Barn 8 is Unferth\'s series of snapshots printed like fine-art photographs and exhibited in a gallery where they tell a story at once intimate and epic, preposterous and honest, disparaging and vulnerable. It\'s a story more expansive than its plot would suggest, embracing a diversity of lives – even some in alternate universes – and spanning prehistoric eras to a time beyond our imagining. But even though it instructs us that the chickens were here long before we were and will have the last word (or should that be cluck?) long after we\'re gone, this tale of chickens is always completely, compassionately human.
RaveThe Austin ChronicleIn many ways, The Which Way Tree is Sam's story, but Crook has wisely chosen not to have her tell it. Just as part of Ahab's power comes from our seeing him through another's eyes, Sam is all the more compelling because we aren't in her head, hearing her thoughts. The depth and breadth of her pain is unknowable to us; we can only gauge some measure of it through the fury and tenacity and woundedness that are described to us ... How Crook managed to channel the voice of a 17-year-old boy in 1860s Texas so convincingly I can't say, but Ben is both persuasive and captivating, a fully realized character that you gladly follow across the Lone Star State ... In this remarkable novel, she's given us something wild to wonder at, and to be moved by.