Such prodigious richness inevitably slows the narrative pace, as does Rahill’s choice to represent, in a populous cast of characters, absolutely everyone’s inner voice and perspective: the narrative becomes ever more fragmented. There is a tug of war between a plot that wants to unfold and the characters’ tendency to wordy retrospection. If that feels like a weakness in this ambitious novel, however, it is an honourable one. Rahill’s aim is to represent, with visceral intensity, the whole disintegrating web of a family, in which every node is under strain and where paroxysms along the web affect every point of conjunction.
There is a sense of great weight about this book; the characters move through a dense and cloudy atmosphere of fear and suspicion... Although the book is written in the third person, as the narrative progresses we see through the eyes of almost every character, and while the quality of Rahill’s sinuous, lyrical prose is constant, some of the characters are more interesting to spend time with than others... Villains can be fascinating, of course, but extreme petty selfishness and greed is not inherently interesting. And a sour note is added by the fact that almost all the unsympathetic characters are physically unattractive, their flaws lingered over in detail... [However,] Rahill is particularly good at writing from the viewpoint of children.