...a ravishing tale of love ... This novel is every bit as strange and sensuous as Celt’s lyrical debut, The Daughters ... Despite its exceedingly dark subject matter, however, the novel possesses a human warmth that even Nabokov’s most tender novel, Pnin, never quite manages to achieve ... To write a homage to arguably the finest English-language prose stylist of the 20th century takes a great deal of nerve. Fortunately, Seattle-born Celt is an exquisite writer; her sentences take hold of you and will not let go ... Celt writes with great tenderness and humour ... The novel’s critique of Nabokov is as sharp as the admiration is intense ... The question invited by every homage is whether it merits being read by those who are unfamiliar with the source of inspiration. In the case of Invitation to a Bonfire, the answer is, emphatically, 'yes.'
...the language is Nabokovian to say the least. Right when you think Celt has hit some undefined apogee of prose, she proves time and time again there’s still more fun to be had, and her lyricism and wit are a real treat ... Celt’s prose also excels at distinguishing the varying writing styles of her characters ... Invitation to a Bonfire challenges the notion that an artist is inexorably responsible for their work or their legacy.
The first challenge I faced with the novel was suspending disbelief with Zoe’s 'diary.' It leaps off the page fully formed, beautiful and literary — not like any diary I have ever kept or read ... The second challenge was the novel’s promotional material ... I am not a Nabokov expert, so I worried that my appreciation of Celt’s novel would be limited. However, as the story unfolded, these concerns slipped away in the magical prose Celt creates.