The opening pages of Jon McGregor’s haunting fourth novel describe the search for a 13-year-old girl who has gone missing from a Peak District village, said Peter Kemp in The Sunday Times. It’s an “unexpectedly thriller-like opening”: McGregor, best known for his 2002 debut If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, has “previously favoured slow-burn narratives”. Yet it doesn’t take long for more “characteristic concerns” to surface. The body isn’t found, said Tessa Hadley in The Guardian. “Time passes and the police searches come to nothing.” McGregor subverts our expectations of the story: instead, the novel chronicles life in the village as it unfolds over the next 13 years, from a “remote omniscient distance”.
Reservoir 13 easily surpasses anything McGregor has previously written, said Paraic O’Donnell in The Irish Times. The “sparing loveliness” of the prose feels “deeply true to its subject”. The novel is studded with moments of “miraculous grace”. A mark of great art is that its effects “are not easily accounted for”. That’s true of this “humane, tender masterpiece”.