PositiveThe Irish Times (IRE)... confronts something that true crime readers, and authors, would prefer to ignore: the cost of their morbid fascinations ... The reader’s attention is torn; as soon as this novel finds solid ground, it swerves away to another era, another voice, or even, at one point, another style entirely, lapsing into gothic script and Early Modern English in order to tell the story of two (imaginary) adolescent knights ... Devil House is likely not for everyone, perhaps not even all of Darnielle’s fans. But it’s courageous in its strangeness and sincerity, its formal ambition and the beauty it locates in culture’s forgotten, unloved outposts. For those willing to tolerate its tricks and its Nabokovian nesting-doll of a plot, Darnielle’s lost world of lost boys is a comforting place to be – all the more so for the danger looming beyond its castle walls.
Virginie Despentes, Trans. by Frank Wynne
RaveThe White Review... Despentes at her most compassionate, and hopeful ... Despentes’ writing is caustic, but generous even to her least-sympathetic characters. Racism, bigotry, domestic violence and abuse of power all feature in Vernon Subutext, viewed through the eyes of perpetrators as often as through those of their victims. Despentes has not so much moved away from feminism as broadened her cross hairs: the rage which fuelled her debut, the revenge fantasy Baise-Moi (1994), is still there, as are the conflicts, injustices and hypocrisies addressed in subsequent works like Bye Bye Blondie (2004), Pretty Things (2008) and Apocolypse Baby (2010). In the Vernon books, however, these themes have fermented into something at once introspective and overarching...now Despentes envisions what comes after the rampage ... the culmination of a career spent scratching at scars and exposing society’s contradictions: the smarmy yet self-loathing middle classes, the complicit women, the men inside the patriarchal system who seem barely capable of being, let alone wanting to be in control. Despentes identifies these flaws and looks closer rather than turning away ... Her writing is no longer about being Virginie Despentes; it’s about imagining the future.