Cleverly mimicking the often discordant communications of the dead .. Jackson spins not only an incredible yarn but a delightfully strange, wondrously original, and dazzlingly immersive gothic love letter to storytelling itself.
Every once in a while a book comes along that merits special attention...is one of those books. It’s masterfully written, wildly entertaining, incredibly clever, and a creepily thrilling good read ... will leave you haunted and questioning the very nature of human existence ... a weighty and wildly creative tome of a novel that will leave you questioning the very nature of writing and reading, of life and death itself.
Riddance is Jackson’s first novel in twelve years, and it’s as noisy, category-defying, and fantastically weird a book as a longtime Jackson fan might hope for ... It is a big, exuberant, gleeful book, whimsical and inventive and stuffed full of wild leaps from the land of the dead to the land of the living—which, in Jackson’s world, are not so very separate at all ... Jackson always brings us back to its most compelling elements: the intersections and divergences of Jane and Sybil’s devastating loneliness and indomitable wills. As the book progresses—and the school falls apart—their stories surface more and more insistently, carrying the reader through to a bittersweet end. While Riddance begins as a sometimes grotesque and always clever meditation on living, dying, and writing fiction, its heart is something sadder and less cerebral—an investigation into the way that damage and trauma reroute human lives.
We share more similarities with Riddance’s stuttering children, who channel ghosts and even walk among them, than we share with most characters. The novel’s language, alluring and sometimes inscrutable, reflects the unknown that lies beyond, around and within us.
... [a] long and comprehensively developed [novel] that [allows] the reader to settle in for a comfortable enough read, although... the story must be pieced together, and is not merely offered to us from a unified narrative perspective ... Riddance has its share of slippages and ambiguities, but... it is also more recognizable in its formal structure, a novel masquerading as another kind of text ... Sybil Joines’s dispatch is the main attraction in Riddance as well because it features much of the novel’s best and most imaginative writing ... Riddance [shows] that [Jackson's] work is firmly situated in established literary history — perhaps we could say it, too, emerges from the silences and gaps lurking in that history.
There is an audience of readers who will appreciate this book simply for existing. There is an audience of readers who will enjoy the experience of reading this book. There is also an audience of readers who will be thrilled by the idea of this novel and dreadfully disappointed by its execution ... the monotony undercuts the gothic conceit Jackson alludes to at the beginning ... Postmodern gothic made tedious.