(Starred review.) Palliser juxtaposes Gothic melodrama, a metafictional frame, a vividly unreliable narrator, and a roiling mix of mysteries in this provocative Victorian thriller.... Rustication showcases the author’s originality, boldness, and range.... [Despite] its graphic passages...the novel wraps a genuinely memorable reflection on family and human fallibility in a wickedly entertaining, intricately plotted read.
Palliser vividly captures the claustrophobic feeling of a small Victorian community being overwhelmed by anxiety and mistrust, and fans of twisty plots will enjoy guessing at the town’s many secrets as they sift through the rumors and gossip offered up by a well-drawn cast of darkly quirky characters. —Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL
Something wicked...iis in the heart of a small town in mid-Victorian England. Sent down from Cambridge in disgrace, 17-year-old Richard Shenstone retreats to an ancient, crumbling house on the edge of a marshy bay occupied by his recently widowed mother and his enigmatically secretive sister.... Paranoia reigns supreme as the twists and turns keep multiplying in this gothic horror show adeptly spun. —Margaret Flanagan
A reprobate college student stands accused of a host of moral failings in an intensely gothic tale....but, like most gothic literature, this is a highly moral novel: It's about the struggle to live rightly when nature and man alike send storm clouds your way. The story turns on whether or not Richard is the author of [a series of vicious] letters, but...[m]uch time is spent elaborating on the complex web of relationships in the town...which saps the emotional power of Richard's effort to redeem himself.
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