The creepy atmosphere and ghosts make it horror, but the drug abuse, evictions, cheating, and destroyed lives make it noir. Also, Miller's writing and vivid imagery, especially when describing dreams, make it poetry. The mix of genres, much like the mix of elements, makes no sense, but it works ... astonishingly real and painfully relatable ... Miller pulls readers into a universe where the banality of everyday life in a small town and the extraordinary weirdness of the supernatural collide, but the collision somehow results in a strange balance ... There is plenty of strangeness and action in The Blade Between, but Miller also finds ways to tackle important subjects within the chaos ... This is a complex novel that never allows one storyline to overpower the others ... more than a dystopian sci-fi thriller with a dash of poetry; it's an explosive narrative about a small town caught between the decaying ghosts of the past, the shattered dreams and mediocre lives of its residents, and the monster of gentrification that threatens to erase it all under shiny new buildings and fancy coffee shops. That Miller manages to discuss all three while also exploring the interstitial spaces between homosexuality, technology, and class privilege and resentment is a testament to his storytelling skills, and a powerful reason to read this haunting tale.
... one of the best books I’ve read in 2020. Miller’s prose is phenomenal: sometimes dripping with malice, sometimes warm with affection, sometimes quiet in solitude or misery. Seriously, it’s so good I regularly paused to luxuriate over specific lines, but it’s more than just handsome writing. Miller has crafted a mature, thoughtful, and challenging novel that tackles the problem of being ethical in the world. No one is a good or bad person, because those aren’t the measures we need to be using ... The Blade Between deserves praise on the craft level, but also for the work being done under the surface of that technical brilliance. The meditation on the messily-human trouble of ethics pairs with a mature exploration of the weight of transformation/restoration—for people, communities, histories—in a discomfiting but vital story that throbs off of the page. I’m going to be sitting in thought with this book for awhile, and for that, I’m grateful.
... not a laid-back read for a languid afternoon. No, this is a sit-up-straight book. Full of jarring juxtapositions, this book is as engrossing as it is challenging. While it requires your attention, The Blade Between rewards you with a heady, addictive mix of realism and wild creativity ... Miller’s depiction of gentrification is wrought in clinical but visceral detail. Gentrification’s interlinked consequences —evictions, displacement, loss of community, homelessness, poverty, and drug use—are drawn in clear, bright lines, effortlessly illustrating the facets of a complex social problem playing out in communities all across America ... rather than veering toward the ridiculous, the character of Ronan makes it all work. His open, probing intellect invites the reader to share all his turmoil and trauma and contradictions. So when he reacts to the revelation of ghosts and gods and time slips with near hysteria, it lessens the burden of suspending disbelief ... Miller’s careful construction of the book’s many other characters and their roiling, clashing needs and motivations makes it easy to believe that an entire city could be involved in a dark conspiracy, embroiled in a secret civil war that culminates in bloody unrest ... With all this going on, you may suspect that this story maneuvers like a barge, but instead it advances with speed and precision. The staccato rhythm of the chapters and the quick cuts between characters makes the narrative vibrate with energy. Even as the plot thickens—like, really thickens—and the characters accrue, the story’s pace somehow increases, hurtling us towards a breathless and breathtaking conclusion ... Though it occasionally flirts with chaos, The Blade Between maintains an exhilarating balance between verisimilitude and unshackled imagination. On the latter, Miller goes all in, and it’s a pleasure to follow.