... earthy vividness ... Brandon's fallen-Confederacy setting comes authoritatively alive ... This coming-of-age story continues [Brandon's] work in the vein of William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy and Barry Hannah, tracking outsiders from society's fringes on odd and often gruesomely humorous quests through richly realized and treacherous landscapes ... Brandon was born and raised in Florida, and his lushly described terrain bristles with beauty and menace ... Cinematic and featuring a plot full of old-timey moral clarity where virtue and villainy delineate themselves sharply, Ivory Shoals is a gripping yarn that unfolds a tapestry of 'Humanity wicked as one could conceive, or as worthy.;
... has echoes of many great books, but it has its own story to tell, and tells it with insight and brio ... The picaresque structure of the book lets Brandon move Gussie through encounters with many characters and settings. The author writes lyrically of natural Florida, even its perilous parts, in descriptions rich with detail ... Brandon gives us plenty of memorable characters ...a bracing mix of Florida history and fleet adventure, livened with dry wit and a tender regard for its characters. Take a walk across the state with Gussie — you won’t regret it.
... exuberantly narrated ... Brandon emphasizes period-specific detail and revels in old-timey turns of phrase, conjuring a lost world of rough camps, gunpowder coffee, and pouches of leaf tobacco. He’s interested in the Reconstruction era not as a frame for sociopolitical commentary but rather as a vivid, turbulent backdrop for Gussie’s path to maturity. But for all its Southern Gothic touches and action-movie fight sequences, the novel’s most powerful moments may be its lush depictions of Florida’s wildlands.