There’s a review of The False River in The Herald newspaper today.
‘The False River
The Willesden Herald Short Story Prize might not sound glitzy, but it allows Nick Holdstock’s story “Ward” (in which a teenage girl’s cancer diagnosis changes the course of her life) to be described as award-winning, which feels deserved. And judging by the quality of these stories, it won’t be his last accolade. Short story collections are often front-loaded with the best work, but The False River actually becomes more compelling as it goes along. His ease with dark and transgressive themes (animal-lovers should skip past “The Ballad of Poor Lucy Miller”) brings to mind a young Ian McEwan, but Holdstock is a multi-faceted writer who often seems to be urging his stories to break free of the frames surrounding them and even alters one character mid-story because he doesn’t like the direction it’s going. But mostly this accomplished collection is driven by a burning curiosity about the psychological states of its characters, and it should put him firmly on the literary map.