Carousel Court is a gritty, raw novel that will have readers recalling the icy relationships found in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Adam Ross’ Mr. Peanut. McGinniss’ work is built on layers of tension and dark turns that, at times, surpass the twisted works of his contemporaries ... McGinniss deserves a lot of credit for handling the darkness so well. He never seems to overdo it. When he gets close to the edge, he adds in just the right amount of humor.
Carousel Court is a raw, close-up portrait of a married couple tormented by money problems in the midst of a national recession ... The writing is taut and swift, with spare, propulsive sentences in short chapters — 97 of them in 350 pages (with whole pages devoted to rapid-fire, soul-sucking text exchanges). The tension and misery rarely let up, and despite the relief available in not reading this book, it’s very hard to look away.
McGinniss spins an edgy tale, often laced with a reporter’s eye for the little details that make characters pop and convey a sarcastic take on what a certain slice of people need nowadays to feel uplifted ... McGinniss Jr.’s story usually goes fast, but the momentum sometimes stalls because the book is carved up into so many chapters — 97, in fact. A more significant problem is the dialogue, which can be cheesy.
The tension is in that disconnection — how much of our lives do we need to live via text message and selfie, in anonymous hotels, in half-abandoned housing communities, before we lose our sense of self? McGinniss is gifted at cultivating a feeling of emotional distance in response to that question ... Phoebe and Nick have about three too many hollow squabbles followed by hollow reconciliations, and he could stand to be funnier; Carousel Court‘s dark mood leaves little room for dark satire. But his dry, crisp, sun-glared vision also suggests a path for fiction that is at once existential and operatic, slick but with a moral imperative, too.
...[a] raucously inventive novel ... McGinniss’ gorgeous prose captures the agony of the 'moaning winds and anguished cries coming from the bone-dry hills' ... But he’s also a master at character ... Unfortunately, he takes a bit too long to reveal the incidents that truly shaped Phoebe.