McFarlane has an intelligent and distinctive voice and she's a marvel at conjuring atmosphere.
Superb . . . It's not just that McFarlane's descriptions are beautiful prose, though they are. THE HIGH PLACES is more deliberate than that, and more intelligent. McFarlane strikes an emotional note on every page, whether it be humour or nostalgia or discomfort or joy . . . Nothing is forced and the reason I can't pick my favourite is that every one of the 13 stories is a winner.
While the stories in THE HIGH PLACES are imaginative, playful, and intellectually sophisticated, it is no overstatement to suggest that their power resides in the authority of McFarlane's style, not just in her ideas. McFarlane's sentences fizz with imagery . . . The resultant voice is difficult to parse - highly assured, comic but kind, an effervescent admixture of fable, magic realism, and irony . . . [a] remarkable collection.
A terrific collection . . . a baker's dozen of powerful stories
McFarlane has a knack for bringing out the macabre . . . and shows herself as an exceptionally fine writer of the ways coercion and care entangle us
Like a fascinating box of brightly coloured, faintly surreal toys
Deliciously unsettling, [McFarlane's] characters act and react in unexpected ways, taking both reader and themselves by surprise.
McFarlane writes with a deceptively plain hand, and her style gives shape to the unanswered questions of how well we can ever know each other or ourselves . . . The writing is clever and skilful in spades
McFarlane has a gift for cutting into a story at precisely the right angle . . . Her writing is skilled; her point of view is unique.
While lesser writers use similes to render descriptions more vivid, McFarlane's heighten aspects of her characters and advance her plots.
In her distinct and unusual voice - the disconcerting tone and dry humour are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood or Valerie Martin - McFarlane examines relationships with uncomfortable clarity and insight, observing the subtext of human behaviour while acknowledging a mysterious power behind the reality we think we know.