“[Magpie Hall] pays homage to the gothic tradition, with hints of romance, of dark and complex things, and certainly with a few spooky bits which get your hair standing on end. But by the ending the book becomes something else, something deeper. It is a bigger story, more meaningful than a simple ghost story or romance … The book draws a needle to the skin of our nostalgic leanings. And as someone who was certainly drawn to the book for its lovely mix of dark, freaky, romantic, historical and natural – I was left feeling moved and a little bereft. This is great stormy-weather cup-of-tea under-the-covers reading. I finished it over two days and every time I did something else I just wanted to get back to it.” Angela Meyer, Literary Minded, January 2011.

“Conflict, mystery and a good dollop of scandal make Magpie Hall perfect lazy Sunday reading material.” Timaru Herald, April 2010.

“A wonderful novel that could be enjoyed by anyone.” Bay of Plenty Times, March 2010.

“King had me gripped by the power of her writing…It is not my custom to give away all of a plot, so you will have to take my word for it – this is a superb second book: sharp and dark and very good.” North and South, January 2010.

“The combination of tattooing, collecting, taxidermy, a murder mystery, and the schadenfreude of a young woman who recognises her family’s role in the extinction of once populous bird species, make this a gripping read… If you have any interest in history, ecology, tattoo parlours, or indeed Canterbury as a whole, then you too will find this book ‘un-put-downable’.” Scoop Review of Books, January 2010.

“The full cleverness of Rachael King’s second novel did not hit me until near the end… but all the while I was stepping into a carefully prepared trap… Switching back and forth between chapters narrated by Rosemary to third-person accounts of Henry’s life with his doomed first wife, King delights in misleading us and overturning our assumptions… building into a wily meditation on the ways that fantasy, desire, guilt, influential reading and hunger for esteem affect the way we perceive and report the past – including our own personal histories. An assured performance, it confirms that King is not just a one-off talent but here for the long haul.” Iain Sharp, Metro, December 2009.

“King is a hugely talented writer. Her prose is effortless, whether she is writing description or dialogue, in the English of the 21st or 19th century – there’s neither fuss nor frills, but absolute conviction. As with The Sound of Butterflies, the narrative is underpinned with sound research without it being overwhelmed with detail for the sake of it.” The New Zealand Herald, December 2009.

Magpie Hall shares many of its predecessor’s strengths – and themes… there are unconventional, engaging characters and a well-paced plot that incorporates elements of mystery, romance and historical drama without succumbing to the tricksy techniques or predictable outcomes that can badger genre fiction.” The Listener, December 2009.

“King has the great knack of building the story up, layer by rich layer, making you never want to put the novel down… And then there is the twist – when it comes it takes the story in a completely unexpected but most satisfying direction… Engrossing and beautiful, Magpie Hall by Rachael King is a worthy successor to her first Montana-winning novel The Sound of Butterflies. In fact I would not be at all surprised if Magpie Hall is an award winner itself – it certainly wins my award for best New Zealand novel in 2009.” The Nile, December 2009.

“King is a lovely writer. From her prose you can tell how much joy she takes in words. She has a light touch and a particular talent for evoking atmosphere. Magpie Hall itself becomes a forceful character in the story with its cold, sinister menagerie room and tower, its stuffed native birds and leering, malevolent magpies… King has created such a magical place and such strong characters I wanted to read more of them.” Herald on Sunday, November 2009.

“Fortunately, even those of us who don’t have a working knowledge of Victorian literature can still enjoy Magpie Hall.. With its racy mix of themes – taxidermy, tattoos, gothic novels, cabinets of curiosities, old country houses and ghosts – combined with a couple of mysteries and a good dollop of sex, Magpie Hall romps along at a thoroughly entertaining pace.” The Listener, November 2009.

“Rachael King spins a good yarn, and one that has a powerful aesthetic. Like her first novel The Sound of Butterflies, she chooses elements that both fascinate and repel and blends them with the morbid, the erotic, the eerie and the exquisitely beautiful. There is the same fascination with collecting and obsession and science, and with the stuff of illustration – how to show and hold and remember those evanescent things: love and beauty? … There’s just the sort of uncertainty I like in fiction, and material that changes the way I see things. ‘Two for joy’ it is, then.” Mary McCallum, author of The Blue.