“Disturbing, one-of-a-kind . . . “ —Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
“Unforgettable. . . . An ambitious tour de force that demands the reader’s attention; those willing to follow along will be rewarded with a singular and haunting story.” —Publishers Weekly
If I had read Reservoir 13 without having heard anything about it, I would have loved it. I would have appreciated the details of daily life in a small village in the Peak District. I would have enjoyed the way the novel tantalized me into thinking I was about get a clue about who abducted 13-year old Rebecca Shaw only to have my hopes dashed and later built back up again. I would have relished the way McGregor gradually reveal the layers personality/foible/secrets of the numerous characters that move in and out to the story.
I think most of all, I would have appreciated the yearly, cyclical, rhythm of the book. I liked hearing about the condition of the cow parsley in the hedgerows, or the quality of the chestnut mast. I liked how McGregor repeated certain phrases each year–particularly his yearly observance of Mischief Night, Bonfire Night, and New Year’s Eve.
In fact, I don’t have any issue with the high praise the book received, I think that is probably deserved. What I do have a problem with is the praise that made me think that something unbelievable was going to happen. The George Saunders’ excerpt above may have been taken out of context, but I saw a lot of similar blurbs. That this was the book about an abduction that was going to surprise and amaze me. Well it didn’t. I feel like this book was click-baited to death. I’m a fan of Anita Brookner–I can handle slow. I like repetition in books. I don’t need a plot. I like authors who twist things on their sides. But McGregor’s twists are extremely subtle, and anyone who was led to believe they were going to be blown away are left wondering what the fuss was all about.
Dazzling, haunting, chilling, disturbing, one-of-a-kind? No. Just stop. I’m not going to click on you. Stop talking. Shut down the blurb factory.