...the biggest, most ambitious book of [Hoffman’s] career … Once Yael and her father make it to Masada, the novel kicks into a higher gear...There’s already a legend associated with Masada, which is passed around by the refugees, of a man who killed his family and then himself, rather than submit to the king. This is, of course, about to be relived on a more horrifying scale … Hoffman is working with harrowing stuff, and The Dovekeepers only gains in power as the Roman soldiers move closer to their destination.
...a book that pays beautiful homage to the people of Masada, and particularly the women … By the book's end, all four characters are richly rounded, and Yael is as beloved as the others. In retrospect, her habit of cutting lines into her flesh to mark the grueling days in the desert — and probably her other actions there — also reminded her that she was alive … The Dovekeepers is a stunningly crafted work about a tragic and heroic time. It also showcases Hoffman's immense gift for telling stories about women, magic and complex relationships.
Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers is a splendid entertainment, a harrowing, thrilling, feminist historical novel fueled to fever pitch by a rich imagination … Her mastery of historical detail is impressive, evoking the time and place, enriching her characters, creating a story that engages emotions as well as intellect. Her writing is elegant and passionate, occasionally rising to an Old Testament cadence distractingly reminiscent of those biblical movie extravaganzas of the 1950s. The world she describes is one of myths, symbols, portents, omens, dreams, spells, curses, strange ancient customs, and practices. The women’s stories intertwine and unfold against a landscape soaked in blood, not only the blood of violence but menstrual blood and the blood of childbirth.