Old Newgate Road is a complex and introspective account of one family's plight of abuse and heartbreak that plagues each member for decades ... Highly emotional, this novel offers much food for thought.
... [a] dark rumination on domestic violence ... Such subplots seem designed to crank up the dramatic tension by underscoring the extent to which Cole’s present and his future depend on his ability to find peace with his past. But the most affecting scenes may be the quieter moments in which Cole discovers intimacies—sharing a meal, helping with a shower—with his decaying monster of a father.
[There is] a lot of domestic drama to carry (not to mention Cole’s run-ins with a former bully), but Scribner mostly handles it with grace and a fine eye for detail around his Connecticut setting; he writes beautifully about the hills and tobacco fields that define the area ... Scribner’s prose can be overgrown, and some plotlines feel untenable ... But Scribner wisely avoids clichéd father-son teaching moments, instead drilling deeper into ever darker material, arguing that the stories abused children tell themselves about violence are often cover for even worse degradations. The novel ends on a redemptive note, but not before running its leads through an emotional gauntlet. A bracing, knotty exploration of abuse and its impact across decades.
... [a] gripping saga ... Scribner’s narrative draws out themes of masculinity, sublimated trauma, and physical violence—speaking to the ways people fashion narratives out of troubled pasts to survive, resulting in a probing, tightly-plotted novel.