RaveiNews (UK)XstabethXstabeth is rooted in that...visionary tradition, presenting less as a novel and more as a trance-like stream of consciousness from which you emerge dazed and invigorated ... The pleasures of Xstabeth lie in the ways in which the inventive Keenan plays with language and form. It is a slim but profound book, which examines the nature of love even as it looks at the price true creativity might extract. You finish it both desperate to return to the beginning and eager to find out just what Keenan will do next.
Ravei (UK)Luckenbooth, her masterly third novel, captures both the beauty and, more importantly, the brutality that cuts to the city’s very core ... A lesser writer would struggle to control this cacophony of voices but what marks out Luckenbooth is the fierce intelligence driving Fagan’s tale. Her story is both as loose and louche as a piece of Bob Fosse choreography and as rigorously organised as a Russian ballet ... This is a mad god’s dream of a book—it deserves to be shortlisted for every prize going this year.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Stonex is excellent on the tensions between the three men ... Stonex adeptly captures the monotony of that life...and her plot turns with as much precision as Arthur’s beloved timepieces before coming to a satisfying, surprising conclusion. Yet rather than the mystery, it is the complicated relationship between the three women left behind that is most vivid ... Hatred, distrust, lies and an unexpected sort of love binds these women in an elegant novel that is as interested in the notion of hope and acceptance as it is in murder and revenge.
RaveiNewsIt is notoriously difficult to write a prequel to a much-loved book...Concrete Rose pulls off the challenge with aplomb. Indeed, it is arguable that this enthralling novel is the better book ... Certainly, Thomas’s story of teenage fatherhood, gang culture and the struggle to escape terrible circumstances, grips from the start ... Thomas, always an accomplished writer capable of thrusting the reader straight into the heart of the story, performs wonders here. Maverick’s character, by turns thoughtful and hot-headed, springs from the page. We root for him even as he makes mistakes, in part because we know he is trying, if not always succeeding ... a lovely, sensitive portrayal of young, black masculinity, which never talks down to its audience and perfectly captures often ignored and unrecorded lives. It should be read everywhere.
Raveinews (UK)French’s preferred setting has long been the bustling streets of Ireland’s capital and its suburbs, but with The Searcher , she moves deep into the countryside, where the hills and valleys of the rural west prove just as menacing ... French has great fun referencing the westerns of Johns Ford and Huston, big, brawling American men who were proud of their Irish roots. And inevitably, before long, Cal finds himself caught up in a missing person case ... As the story unfolds, French spins a tale of long-buried secrets, outside forces threatening an insular community and get-rich-quick schemes ... It is a clever plot that remains tense throughout. Yet the real pleasure in reading The Searcher comes not from the mystery of Brendan’s disappearance but from how precisely French captures every aspect of rural Irish life, from the local shop owner who knows every move made by every villager and is desperate to pair Cal off with her sister to the complex grudges buried in the mists of time ... It is a beautifully written, deeply rewarding Irish country noir which springs so vividly from the page that you feel you are there.
PositiveiNewsDespite the narrower setting, however, The Wild Laughter is a deliberately epic tale ... The end is as shocking as it is inevitable. Hughes draws on inspirations from the story of Cain and Abel to John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, delivering a gut punch that both holds a mirror to Ireland’s recent past and warns of the dangers of being too in thrall to ancient history.
Kate Reed Petty
RaveiNews (UK)... impressive ... plays constantly with genre while weaving an addictive, perfectly balanced tale about a high school lacrosse party that ends in an accusation of sexual assault ... Petty is not interested in adding to the growing collection of #MeToo fiction, or at least not in any conventional way. Instead, she draws the reader in and then confounds them ... Is this a novel, then, about toxic masculinity and the way in which institutions protect their own? Yes, in part, but again Reed Petty is too savvy to leave it there. Instead, this is a story about consent, about the long-standing effects of trauma and how, and if, those who suffer a traumatic event can move on ... powerful and haunting.
RaveI (UK)... [a] magnificent conclusion ... there is joy here...both in the lavish descriptions of Tudor England, and in those perfectly weighted sentences. No-one writes quite like Mantel. Her words thrust us deep into the heart of Henry’s febrile court ... Ambitious, compassionate, clear-eyed yet emotional, passionate and pragmatic, The Mirror & The Light lays down a marker for historical fiction that will set the standard for generations to come.
RaveINews (UK)...necessary ... As the two stories merge, and the truth about what happened to Elise is slowly revealed, Burton has great fun skewering both the ersatz glamour of 80s Hollywood and our present world of carefully curated lives online ... Yet, while the central plot is moving and the story thoughtfully worked out, The Confession’s real power comes from Burton’s willingness to delve deep into the choices her heroines make and what those choices might ultimately mean ... Serious yet playful, and beautifully told, the result is an engaging and vital novel that, thankfully, puts women’s interior lives centre stage once more.