"Spellbinding . . . Carnivalesque contorts with magic and otherness, conjuring an eerily seductive shadow world." - O, the Oprah Magazine, "20 Books of Summer"
"The author's words flow with poetic cadence, conveying the light and dark sides of fairy tales from long ago. . . Fans of Jordan's The Drowned Detective (2016) will be entranced by this fantastical coming-of-age chronicle." - Booklist
"This new work from director/author Jordan is a house of mirrors, reflecting and distorting Celtic fairy tales to reveal new dimensions to timeless stories. Jordan's seductive narratives are unmatched in modern literature, although many will recognize parallels to Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman." - Library Journal
"Poignant. . . . It’s an entertainment, a pageant, a whirl of colourful characters and vividly realised events, to be enjoyed." - The Guardian
"Beautifully poetic prose." - Daily Mail
"Jordan's at his best when exploring the dark history of his circus fey or when detailing the quiet miseries of the supporting cast. . . there's much here to like." - Kirkus
"Neil Jordan demonstrates his vast literary imagination in Carnivalesquea fantasia of the highest order that is marvelous, whimsical, dark and daring . . . More than fantasy, there's some magical realism at work . . . Jordan grounds his fantasy in painful elements of the human condition . . . Such self-conscious realism contrasts with moments of lavish poetic splendor in which Jordan gives his formidable powers of description free rein . . . The ending arrives breathlessly, with surprising emotional intensity. And the journey there is, in a word, magical." - Shelf Awareness
"A gripping tale unfolds." - Locus
“[A] novel-length dream . . . Inside this menacing, dripping, mist-bound urban landscape, Jordan takes care to give us a story and characters that aren't cut loose from the quotidian elements we recognize . . . [Jordan] knows how to pace a story an uncommon gift these days . . . His writing is quick and supple.” - New York Times Book Review on THE DROWNED DETECTIVE
“Ghostly and mesmerizing, its narrative unreeling in a nearly hypnotic fashion, yet overlaid with a powerful sense of inevitability. A striking blend of mystery and Hitchcockian romantic suspense.” – starred review, Booklist on THE DROWNED DETECTIVE
“A kind of ghost story that Kafka would have written, had he been inclined to that genre . . . You can never know where you are going with Neil Jordan . . . Extraordinary . . . Highly suspenseful . . . The Drowned Detective is a powerful study of the psychology of jealousy and a man’s fear of being judged and found wanting; it is also a book about fate and chance, and how, within the seeming apparatus of destiny, a form of grace is revealed by the suprarational powers of the imagination.” - The Guardian on THE DROWNED DETECTIVE
“There are plenty of slick literary thrillers around, but for the knotty morality of a troubled marriage, and noir of real emotional and psychological depth, The Drowned Detective is one to seek out.” - British GQ on THE DROWNED DETECTIVE
“Jordan shows his strengths as a writer in the terrific dialogue and atmospheric imagery.” - Publishers Weekly on THE DROWNED DETECTIVE
In the summer of 2016, 14-year-old Dubliner Andy Rackard enters Burleigh's Amazing Hall of Mirrors at a traveling carnival. Upon his exit, a different Andy emerges, a sullen reflection of the boy who entered, now trapped in a fun house mirror. The ethereal carnie Mona rescues him and, over time, initiates the rechristened Dany into the mysteries of the Carnies' lore and life. With each revelation about the carnival and its people, Dany more deeply intuits his identity and crucial role in the ancient war between the Carnies and the Dewmen. Ultimately, Dany faces the horrific Captain Mildew, the traitorous Burleigh, and his twin to save the Carnies and his human mother, Eileen, bereft of the beloved boy who disappeared months ago in a hall of mirrors. VERDICT This new work from director/author Jordan is a house of mirrors, reflecting and distorting Celtic fairy tales to reveal new dimensions to timeless stories. Jordan's seductive narratives are unmatched in modern literature, although many will recognize parallels to Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman.—John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
Andy enters Burleigh's Amazing Hall of Mirrors as a young boy, puzzled by his parents' failing marriage and intrigued by the carnival attraction. Once inside, he becomes trapped behind the mirrors as his doppelgänger walks out. As Andy is taken under the wing of an aerialist named Mona, the reflection who replaces him lives with Andy's parents, confounding his mother as he matures. The carnival is an evocatively drawn, colorful backdrop for an immersive coming-of-age story, and the Irish setting is effectively rendered. While teens will relate more to the chapters centering on Andy than those from his mother's perspective, her musings on the muddy waters the fake Andy is navigating speak to universal truths. Infused with magical realism, this page-turner will enthrall teens. VERDICT A bewitching bildungsroman, perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.—Erinn Black Salge, Morristown-Beard School, Morristown, NJ
An adolescent boy is abducted into a world of secrets and addictions by a magical circus while his mother suspects something is masquerading as her son in Jordan's (The Drowned Detective, 2016, etc.) coming-of-age fairy tale.It is a fairy tale: the carnies and roustabouts of the traveling circus are the last fey, reduced to surviving off mortals' emotions, and hiding their superhuman abilities in plain sight. Mona, who can fly, poses as an aerial dancer...and "adopts" a British youth who falls through the cracks of the carnival's Hall of Mirrors. Andy—or Dany, as his name becomes in the circus—is a boy like many others save for his close relationship with his mother, Eileen, a suburban housewife in a troubled marriage. As Dany adjusts to the carnie life under Mona's tutelage and learns the carnival's dark secrets, something else has exited the mirror in Dany's place...and now calls itself Andy. Eileen struggles to understand the seeming changes in her son, rationalizing them as adolescence and puberty, but she is haunted by memories of Andy's unusual birth. Though the tale builds slowly, progressing in a parallel haze of Dany's state of uncertain enchantment and Eileen's growing unease, it comes to a visceral head with the revelations of Dany's origin and a villain whose delightfully macabre presence will leave the reader reaching for some bug spray. However, the showdown between Dany and his foe is over too quickly, and the story sinks back into a languid emotional remove. Jordan's at his best when exploring the dark history of his circus fey or when detailing the quiet miseries of the supporting cast; our hero feels less Real Boy than a reactive cipher, muffled by cotton candy. Still, spun sugar is tasty, and there's much here to like.