"Martin's prose is lucid, and she avoids stylistic pyrotechnics. Her primary aim is to allow her characters their contradictory feelings, giving them room to breathe … Martin's complex and wonderful stories, with their careful rendering and sober insights, offer their own kind of relief for the reader: This book is a long, cool drink of water."
—New York Times Book Review
"Valerie Martin is a consummate stylist. A cool, spare writer who can make the fantastic utterly, often horribly believable … In her latest collection of 12 short stories that gift is on full display. A mermaid washes ashore, with murderous intent. A magical suitor displays bad behavior, as do all sorts of more realistic lovers and spouses, artists and writers. Most often, the stories resolve with a twist—some tragic, some simply odd—that causes them to linger in the reader's mind: cautionary tales about the mysteries of life."
"Whether they're self-absorbed painters, deserted women, or even centaurs, Martin's characters are torn between the facades they don and the baser, more animalistic impulses—the needs for power, attention, and revenge—that animate them … an insightful look into the evolution of Martin's writing and her talent for depicting our darker natures. Varied, engaging, and often shocking."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This collection is rife with the unspoken cracks between people, and leaves a haunting, lingering impression."