... dreamlike, atmospheric stories that revel in haunting, protracted tension ... Plunkett’s most magical pieces call to mind Shirley Jackson’s domestic literary horror, but weirder ... If art is control and precision, the unbridled life that inspires it is too sweeping and wild to be accurately captured. Yet Plunkett is a writer of such extraordinary power that she’s able to summon the unknowable chaos into spellbinding story.
Plunkett thrives on exploring the interioriority of these characters, and driving these stories is the examination of the self ... Plunkett hooks readers easily with carefully crafted first lines, drawing readers in with dead bodies, mysteries, and odd images. From there, the stories build momentum slowly, but precisely, spiraling out along tangential subplots. These sideline narratives accrete to form the fuller story, eventually coming together as the stories conclude, often abruptly. Plunkett piles many ingredients into a slow cooker and then lets them boil ... a collection featuring a cerebral examination of womens’ lives. Plunkett is methodical, layering narrative on top of narrative, creating well-considered arguments. Even when the links between tangents are not immediately obvious, Plunkett pulls them together in subtle ways.
Throughout the collection, Plunkett dramatizes how a single moment can unsettle the furniture of a character’s interior life, such that everything is rearranged, temporarily or perhaps for good ... Plunkett alternates between presence and absence; sudden details are visible through the window, but there is a sense of something inaccessible and opaque beyond them ... Plunkett has a way with objects. Hers is a highly contained and often bleak fictional world, full of accumulated, worn things that mostly stay where they are. It feels antiquated; perhaps because these stories are all set in rural New England, which is no longer new at all, but one of the parts of this country most obsessed with its own past. Perhaps, too, because the material landscape of these stories seems to be aging, tinged with loss. These stories could be set in 1980 as easily as 2017 ... Death and sudden violence are at once commonplace and surprising in Plunkett’s hands ... Some of the strangest and most disorienting stories in Prepare Her feature the perspectives of young children ... The final story in the collection, 'Prepare Her,' ...magnifies the claustrophobia felt throughout the collection and concentrates it the child’s body.
Plunkett’s nuanced debut story collection follows characters navigating and identifying the shifts and relationships in their lives, present and past ... With bracing honesty, Plunkett’s richly drawn narratives bring emotional depth to the characters’ struggles and internal conflcts.
Meditative short stories about the befuddling domestic lives of women and girls in northern New England ... The stories in this debut collection are full of horses. Certainly, horses are common in the landscapes of rural Vermont, where these tales are usually set, but they are absolutely everywhere here, alongside narrators whose demanding young children and difficult marriages make their daily lives gray and exhausting ... Plunkett’s strength is in the patience and precision of her interior and exterior landscapes. Like horses, too, these stories are full of beauty and elegance but also inscrutability, with Plunkett content to braid scenes and images together and let the mystery of their relationships abide. Wistful tales rendered with delicate writing and powerful perception.