Reviews (scroll down for other books)

Praise for The Apprentices:

“Magical (in multiple senses).... Readers will be glad to reconnect with these well-drawn characters and be grateful that Meloy has left room for a third installment.” Publishers Weekly starred review

“This sober and well-constructed adventure accurately conveys the geopolitical instability of the era and is leavened with just enough magic, chaste romance and humor to appeal to middle-grade readers through teens.” Kirkus Reviews

The Apprentices showcases Meloy’s descriptive writing and inventive plotting as Janie, Benjamin, and their comrades race around the globe battling the forces of nuclear doom.  Meloy is a sophisticated writer, and like The Apothecary, this sequel offers magic in both the action and the wordsmithing.” —Austin American-Statesman

“[A] magical romp.” Family Circle

“I can't get enough of the cover by Ian Schoenherr, and then there's what's inside: The sequel to Meloy's The Apothecary takes Janie Scott to boarding school in New Hampshire and Benjamin to a war in a jungle on the other side of the world, where he experiments with a new formula that will let him communicate with Janie. Magical adventures (and more illustrations from Schoenherr) ensue.” 
—The Atlantic Wire

“Great characters, action, intrigue and history.”—NPR Best Books of 2013

The Apprentices is thrilling! The characters may know magic, but it’s their courage and resourcefulness that save the day.  This book is even better than The Apothecary, and I didn’t think that was possible.” —Ann Patchett

Praise for The Apothecary:

“Meloy weaves fantasy into a fine work of historical fiction, bringing to life the cold-war era when everyday life was permeated by fear of nuclear disaster and Russian spies lurking everywhere. More important, though, she brings to her first book for young readers the same emotional resonance that has won acclaim for her adult fiction, grounding her story in the intricacies of family love, friendship and loyalty, blended here with the complicated fluctuations of adolescence.” —New York Times Book Review

“The title of Maile Meloy’s smartly written, page-turning adventure/fantasy refers to a magical druggist in London in 1952. It’s told from an adult’s perspective, based on a diary the narrator kept at 14, when she moved from Los Angeles with her parents, TV writers caught up in the Cold War’s ‘Red Scare.’ It deals with the threat of nuclear war, but it’s written with a dry sense of humor and a hint of teen romance. It’s for curious readers who, like Meloy’s characters, can make room in their imaginations and ‘allow for the possibilities.’” —USA Today

“A gem of historical fiction for the middle-school set, Meloy's children's debut is a pitch-perfect melding of postwar intrigue and ancient medicinal arts told from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl.” —Los Angeles Times

“Maile Meloy’s sly commingling of the real and the imaginary make this a witty and entertaining Cold War romp—with a touch of age-appropriate romance.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Think of a cross between Harry Potter and Nancy Drew.... The magic of this book is dazzling.”
New York Journal of Books

“An imaginative and quick-moving story about two clever kids who manage to outsmart a lot of adults. The narrator, Janie, has a delightful sense of humor and is an engaging, fresh character. While the topic seems a bit heavy (nuclear bombs!), the story is lighthearted and reads like a fun mystery.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“A tantalizing blend of history, mystery and fantasy. Meloy’s fast-paced, engrossing Cold War story is matched by her ability to create characters who grab the reader’s interest. The ambiguous ending of ‘The Apothecary’ hints that a sequel is in the works, which should cheer the hearts of the many readers who will love this book.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“This imaginative Cold War thriller centers on an L.A teen living in London, her new friend and his kidnapped father, whose secret elixir just might prevent nuclear Armageddon.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A twisty, magical adventure.” —Girls’ Life Must Read

“A delightful read. It enchants from the beginning, and as the characters are drawn further into a world where magic potions really do exist—but are the stuff of chemistry, not wand-work—it all seems perfectly acceptable. The Apothecary is original but follows in the tradition of great world-building books, from The Hobbit to Harry Potter, in creating a believable world, internally consistent and fascinating.” —Canberra Times, Australia

“In The Apothecary, Maile Meloy keeps raising the stakes for her main characters until it seems that victory is impossible….But it’s hard to keep these characters down, and their ingenuity and determination bring them out of the pages and make them real for the reader. This book is full of magic and sparkle, spies, evil and global intrigue….The Apothecary is an exciting, well-researched adventure that readers will find hard to put down, no matter what genre they favour.”
—Kids Book Capers, Australia

“As the plot darkens, even reluctant readers will find it hard to pull away from the intrigue. A level of storytelling this high, with Schoenherr's fabulous illustrations as chapter openers, make this book a gem indeed.” —Shelf-Awareness

“I ADORED the style of this book. Each page danced with magic and excitement, while the overall tone made me feel like I was re-reading one of my favorite classics. Meloy’s writing is straightforward, compelling and wonderfully vintage, and her words expertly lured me into a world that I can’t wait to visit again.” —Forever Young Adult

“A masterful, multi-layered adventure that combines history, magic, and nonstop action, The Apothecary delivers in every regard.” —Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“[The] blend of history, culture, and the anxiety of the time with magical ‘science’ will keep readers just as spellbound as the characters.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[A] thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance. With evocative, confident prose and equally atmospheric spot art from Schoenherr, adult author Meloy’s first book for young readers is an auspicious one. Readers will hope they haven’t heard the last from Janie and Benjamin.” —Publishers Weekly Picks List

“Inventive, smart and fun, an absolute delight.”
—Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me

Praise for Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It:

“[The characters] are people who act irrationally, against their own best interests—by betraying those they care about, making embarrassing romantic overtures and knowingly setting in motion situations they’d rather avoid—and Meloy’s prose is so clear, calm and intelligent that their behavior becomes eminently understandable. ... Meloy is such a talented and unpredictable writer that I’m officially joining her fan club; whatever she writes next, I’ll gladly read it.”
—Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review

“Don’t let the easy accessibility of Maile Meloy’s writing fool you: she’s capable of witchcraft.... These 11 stories are quick, powerful jabs, startling in their economy; you’re propelled toward each ending, certain she won’t be able to wrap it up in one more page, and you’re proved wrong every time.”

“Precise and restrained, Meloy’s diagnoses of a very American malignancy have an authentic moral force.  So does her merciful treatment of the characters in its grip and of the victims of its spread.  Young as she is (she's 37), she has a scope and maturity that at their most rigorous attain the grandeur of prophecy.”

“These stories, even in their simplicity, are so deep and involving that they forbid their readers to stop turning the pages.  Not only will you want to read this book in one sitting, you will want to read each story a second time—and a third.”

“In her second volume of short stories, Maile Meloy cracks at our nagging desire to have it all (the answers, the romance, the payout, and in one case, the late grandmother come back to life) in 11 tightly written, remarkably fluid narratives.”

“Meloy returns to the short story, the form in which she made her notable debut and to which her lucid style is arrestingly well suited....  Always true to her wide-ranging though consistently introspective characters, Meloy convincingly depicts the inchoate emotion that drives people, while also distilling meaning from it.”
—The Atlantic

“The award-winning Meloy continues to deliver stories that please and surprise as each narrative’s small world unfolds....  Readers who have waited impatiently for Meloy’s return to this genre... have a treat in store.
—Library Journal (starred review)

“Meloy offers a stirring portrayal of everyday longings and disappointments through an original cast of characters, from a socially inept cowboy to a lovelorn 9-year-old girl to a reclusive Argentinean widower.”
—Cookie magazine

“Meloy’s characters frequently leave each other or let each other down, and it is precisely that—their vulnerabilities, failures, and flaws—that make them so wonderful to follow as they vacillate between isolation and connection.”
—Publishers Weekly

“When you have an actual physical reaction while reading a story, it’s the best thing in the world...  It’s a cliché to compare a short story writer to Raymond Carver, but somehow I cannot escape the cliché.  The Carveresqueness comes from Meloy’s sparse prose and her ability to tell stories about ordinary people in a way that feels real, genuine.  It’s a high compliment, really, that Meloy has earned.”

“Meloy presents her fourth intense book, a collection of molten short stories that erupt from a volatile combination of the tender and the vicious.... Dualities and extremes abound as Meloy’s gentle, deer-in-the-headlight protagonists are stunned by the escapades of their daring, outlandish, even outlaw intimates.”
Donna Seaman, Booklist

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It offers yet more evidence of Meloy’s fluency as a realist writer, of her Chekhovian resistance to resolving the existential dilemmas posed in her stories and her skill at allowing the perfect bit of dialogue or the telling detail to express all the emotion that otherwise remains inchoate for her characters…. In the best short stories—by Poe, Raymond Carver, Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor or Alice Munro—there is always malaise, if not outright heartache, on the horizon.  In less able hands this convention turns lugubrious and contrived.  But Meloy’s lean, targeted descriptions and her ultimately compassionate eye make this journey hurt so good.”
Los Angeles Times

“In a Maile Meloy story, the thrill is in our own perception. Meloy never amplifies or underscores.  Her unadorned, low-key prose allows us to come close in to her characters.  In such proximity, how terrifyingly aware we become. . . . Meloy’s style is disciplined and sly.  She keeps a perfect poker face. And we’re players in the game.”
Dallas Morning News

“There is one line in Maile Meloy’s newest story collection that completely slayed me.  (It’s on page 97.)  And in fact, there are many moments before and after that line that left me awestruck as I wondered how she was able to capture a feeling—typically one that’s very familiar, like the flushing embarrassment of an unexpected advance, or the sudden fury found in a bout of sibling rivalry—and create it anew.  The effect is both masterful and ephemeral: All of a sudden, it’s as if your own life is reflected back to you.  This is what great story writers do, and in the stories that follow—whose characters revel or unravel in their relationships to love and family—Meloy pinpoints the ambivalence running through our most powerful emotions, be it love, jealousy, grief, or loneliness.  That she writes with so much truth and wisdom and restraint makes Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It an unexpected pleasure.”
Louisville Courier-Journal

“Maile Meloy’s impressive Both Ways Is the Only One I Want It hides no cubic zirconias among diamonds.  The stories are all lustrous, the language as pristine as a lake in Montana, where several of them are set. . . . Order or disorder?  Cold or warmth?  Freedom or safety?  Such conflicts converge in a perfect storm of ambivalence, self-justification, and blind hope.  Has ever a title been a more perfect match to its content?  Meloy’s characters want it both ways. . . . We readers, however, get to have it all.  We can dip into the collection savoring one delicious morsel at a time or devour the whole book in a single sitting.  We can choose our favorites certain that while one person’s potato is someone else’s potahto, either way, in the gifted hands of this storyteller, treats abound.”
The Boston Globe

“It’s impossible to pick the best of these stories; they’re all fabulous.”
—The Times (London)

“One of the most talented US writers of the coming generation....  The timing is perfect, her approach to comedy is subtle.... Meloy consistently surprises because she is so aware that every story, as with life, has the potential for several different endings but only one defining shot.”
—Irish Times

“Meloy’s pictures are so clear that we cannot help but see ourselves in them.”
—The Guardian

Meloy’s protagonists tend to be transfixed by indecision, unable to control their conflicting desires. Yet there is no sense of drift to the writing, which is quietly purposeful, wry, and refreshingly sympathetic to human failing.”
—The Financial Times

“The action fizzes with ideas, like bombs on a long fuse.” 
—Vogue (UK)

“Readable, plot-driven stories with the unexpected lurking just out of sight. Meloy’s deceptively simple prose carries you through shifting loyalties and relationships, subtle mysteries and shocking conclusions.”
Los Angeles Times Magazine, Lonely Hearts Book Club

“Maile Meloy’s Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It reads like a Bruce Springsteen album sounds: raw with a tender wildness and loaded with adolescent ache.  The nuanced depictions of small-town life in some of these stories (‘He could have told her that her father was the first person he had ever seen falling down drunk, but that seemed unfriendly’) make for a rich tableau of lovelorn cowboys, provincial lawyers, and renegade women.”
O Magazine, Summer Reading List 2010

Praise for A Family Daughter:

“A thoroughly original and undeniably brilliant companion piece to Meloy’s debut novel, Liars and Saints . Each novel stands alone; together they pack a seismic wallop.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In evanescent scenes distinguished by clean, wry prose, Meloy observes the Santerre family, whom readers met in 2003’s Liars and Saints , from a crafty new angle. Meloy shifts point of view fluently, and though her characters weather all sorts of melodrama, the novel itself feels light—poignant and affecting, meaningful yet somehow weightless.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Fans of Meloy’s previous novel, Liars and Saints , will be delighted with her latest effort. An accomplished storyteller, Meloy weaves together improbable twists without edging into silliness. This new work is enjoyable on its own, but those who have read Meloy’s earlier effort can puzzle whether this book is a sequel or a revision.”
—Library Journal

“In her dazzling second novel, Meloy continues the story of the Santerre family, introduced in her first, Liars and Saints (2003). Riveting and engrossing, Meloy’s tale of a family struggling with guilt and forgiveness spans decades and crosses continents, proving her status as one of the best literary observers of contemporary American life.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Enveloping… intimate… Her characters are drawn sparingly, but they leap off the page… one of this book’s most impressive aspects is the author’s ability to keep the narrative moving from character to character with its momentum unimpaired…. A Family Daughter roams engrossingly from California to Paris to Buenos Aires in ways that make it a big book as well as a swift, slender, graceful one…. Has the deep ramifications of more ambitious fiction. It also shoulders the full weight of a vivid, mercurial, flesh-and-blood Roman Catholic family…”
The New York Times

“Rich, moving and full of human comedy… [Meloy] is an enormously empathetic writer.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“A seductive, absorbing read. With ease and fluidity, Meloy gracefully pirouettes from one consciousness to another, from narrative summary to slice-of-life vignettes that provide scope and immediacy. The tone is by turns wry, ironic, affectionate - and consistently engaging... Meloy has shown herself to be a luminous writer.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A straightforward, beautifully told saga of the Santerre family…composed of all sorts of hidden layers.”

“[Meloy is] a wise and astonishing conjurer of convincing realities.”
—The New Yorker

“Maile Meloy’s clear-eyed, well-written soap opera of a novel follows multiple generations of a Catholic family adept at keeping secrets. You’ll ache for them as if they were your own family—then thank God they’re not!”
—Marie Claire

“Meloy creates characters whose internal dialogues and dilemmas make them seem fully human. Many moments shortcut to the quick…These moments ensure that the Santerres stay with you: Theirs is a universal need to feel part of something bigger, something that—however flawed—can bend without breaking.”

“Meloy is subtle and playful in dramatizing her characters’ responses…[she] nudges… us into confronting how hard it is to disentangle what we consider our real lives from the stories—the secrets, lies, evasions, inventions—about them that we create for ourselves. Without aspiring to join a pantheon of postmodern virtuosos, Meloy alerts readers that perspectives are slippery, experience deals out surprises no one can plan for, truth is strange and so is fiction, and the two can be hard to distinguish, in art as in life. Imagination, her fiction reminds us, isn’t a crutch. It’s the compass, however wavering, without which we would be truly lost.”

“The outlandish alliances here are surprisingly poignant in Meloy’s evenhanded narration, in which all the characters are both afflicted and connected by complex varieties of love.”
—Baltimore Sun

“The Santerre family…includes so many appealing personalities, with all the dreams, hopes and foibles of people we have loved at one time or another. Relationships and secrets fuel the plot; it’s the kind of novel that makes a reader mutter ridiculous things out loud, such as, ‘Not her, you idiot, you’re supposed to be with him!’”
—Los Angeles Times

“[Meloy] manages, somehow, to balance edgy hipness and poignant wisdom. Best of all, although Meloy writes in the genre sometimes called “domestic realism” — a category broad and vague enough to include E.M. Forster, Jane Austen and Anne Tyler — she sounds like no one except herself. And that’s cause for rejoicing. Meloy’s work is a find for fiction readers who search for that elusive combination: the novel of literary merit that moves so fast you can’t put it down…the results are often dazzling and endlessly intriguing. Like all the best fiction, A Family Daughter tells us something about ourselves, and something about the world.”
—Buffalo News

“The true miracle of A Family Daughter is that it successfully borrows metafictional technique —a popular hangout for the slick, the disaffected or the otherwise absurdly bright postmodernists brimming with self-awareness —to tell a straightforward humanist story.”
—The Portland Oregonian

"[Meloy] has written a broadly imagined intergenerational novel that reads like a funny, quirky bildungsroman. With its big canvas, its easy tone and its slapdash tragedies, A Family Daughter is a great California novel... We also want to keep listening to all the appealing voices. The author has always been good at imagining the inner lives of people unlike herself — she spreads the insights and the jokes around, so she never loses our interest even as she leaps from perspective to perspective... She writes like a woman who can't resist her passionate interest in how families work."

“Readers should not miss out on any of Meloy’s works, for reading both novels will provide them with food for thought about the thieving nature of the alternative universe that is fiction.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“‘Dazzling’ is a word perhaps too promiscuously employed by book reviewers, but in this case, I think it entirely applicable…More than a writer to watch, Maile Meloy is a writer to read.”
—Toronto Globe and Mail

Praise for Liars and Saints:

“To ignore a couple of time-honored writerly rules of thumb — write what you know; show don’t tell — takes nerve. To do so without showboating or proclaiming yourself a literary rebel takes self-possession. And to create vital, persuasive fiction while you’re at it takes something else — talent, obviously, and that rare quality readers long for and seldom find in an author: authority. Maile Meloy has it in spades. Somehow she pulls off what never quite seemed possible before: combining the meticulous realism of domestic fiction with the witchery of a natural-born storyteller.”
—The New York Times Magazine

“Every once in a while a book comes along that upends popular notions of American fiction. There is the literature of family dysfunction . . . There is regional literature . . . There is the social novel about current events . . . And there is the historical novel . . .
Liars and Saints , Maile Meloy’s spectacular first novel, is at once all of these literatures and none of them. . . . Meloy accomplishes all of the above-all these literatures-not in some sprawling historical novel but in a breathtakingly spare 260 pages. She can telegraph years in a few sentences or lines of dialogue with aching specificity. . . . her novel explores religion and faith from nearly every possible angle, with an equal empathy for the faithful and doubting alike. In this sense, her book remains agnostic, but you can’t help hoping that if God does exist, he — or she — looks down on us all with Meloy’s generous gaze.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“[E]ach chapter of [Meloy’s] highly anticipated first novel,
Liars and Saints , has the seductive aura of a finely crafted story. . . . Liars and Saints is a telescopic survey of five decades that is instructive and bittersweet and yet somehow never nostalgic. And Meloy’s Santerres may just be the most fascinating, engrossing American family since the Louds.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Bittersweet, wise, with a fantastic sense of character and history told in prose that exists entirely to serve her tale, her book is about the bad things good people can do, even when they are trying to do the right thing.”

—The San Francisco Chronicle

“[A]n appealing family romance . . . heartbreaking in its careful observations.”

—The Washington Post

“Meloy has written an exquisite novel about the power of secrets — and the redemption found in religion and love.”


“[A] dazzling novel . . . Meloy, whose collection of short fiction, Half in Love, earned rave reviews last year, writes with wisdom and compassion . . . Meloy’s unerring mastery of narrative is remarkable. The disciplined economy and resonant clarity of her prose allow her to present a complex story in swift, lean chapters. The alternating points of view of eight main characters shine with authenticity and illuminate the moral complexities felt by each generation. The rich emotional chiaroscuro and fine psychological insight of this haunting novel mark Meloy as a writer of extraordinary talent.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A multigenerational first novel told with remarkable compression and precision. . . . Prizewinning storywriter Meloy pushes every melodramatic hot button with disarming understatement.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Meloy is an outstanding short story writer, as evident in her collection,
Half in Love, and her signature clarity and concreteness also grace her first novel . . . As Meloy boldly dramatizes one family’s labyrinthine lies and maneuverings, acts of generosity and forbearance, folly and tragedy, she deftly probes the parameters of faith and love. . . . [Liars and Saints ] calls to mind the work of Antonya Nelson and Andre Dubus.”

“Meloy shows how skillful she is at hurtling the reader into an intriguing story line. . . . a compelling read.”

—Library Journal

“In this exquisitely rendered novel, Meloy brings her incisive intelligence to the page once again, reminding us that our actions and inactions, admissions and omissions, travel from one generation to the next, and that our past travels with us.”
—Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

“Maile Meloy writes with startling clarity; not a word is wasted and yet her characters are developed with tremendous generosity.
Liars and Saints covers decades and generations while still feeling wonderfully intimate. She’s a natural novelist, and this is an absorbing and memorable book.”
—Aimee Bender, author of An Invisible Sign of My Own

“[Liars and Saints ] combines a deliciously addictive family epic with a deliciously spare language.”
The Vancouver Sun

 Praise for Half in Love:

Half In Love is an original mix of quiet calm and wrenching pain. Meloy’s gracefully confident, subtly emotional voice brings her locales vividly to life.”
Washington Post

“A reader curious about short fiction but concerned about the esoteric excesses of the form should acquire a copy of Maile Meloy’s new collection.
Half In Love is wonderfully wise beyond the author’s years....What distinguishes Meloy is her insistence on old-fashioned plot and sensibility. Her clear-eyed fictions exhort us to react in the face of dire change. This challenge makes Maile Meloy a truly compelling discovery.”
Chicago Tribune

“Uncommonly lucid short stories. Here is an author who knows how to jump-start the reader’s interest. . . . A sparkling debut collection of tight, watchful stories. . . . At the end of this versatile collection the power of storytelling has made itself felt.”
The New York Times

“Memorable. . . . In an era when story writers seem to be compelled to link their stories thematically into one tight package,
Half In Love shows that sometimes alternating the flavor can improve the whole. . . She’s left a crisp, indelible picture of a place most readers will never have the privilege of visiting. With this promising debut she allows readers to live [in Montana] for a little while.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Throughout these bite-size stories, Maile Meloy has a flair for making uncertainty vivid, for providing oblique answers in the form of startling enigmas and for making the improbable seem palpably real. . . . Meloy’s voice is as unvarnished as her characters and as unadorned as a Montana hillside.”
Los Angeles Times

“Meloy’s assured prose probes the minds of Montana ranch girls with astounding aplomb. A.”
Entertainment Weekly

“There are times when a writer nails a story the way a diver nails a dive. . . .
Half In Love offers up both plain speaking and mystery, subtlety and shock. That hole in the water marks where the final plunge of a story took your heart along with it.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Meloy deftly captures the unique voices of her characters throughout. Using understatement that never becomes mired in minimalist obscurity, the author helps us come to understand what drives them. A fine collection.”
The Denver Post

“Meloy’s talent lies in captivating the reader quickly and delicately, then —but only sometimes—offering redemption. She never falters in her craft. . . . She is a writer not of promise, but with a fully realized gift.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune

“With her deceptively unfancy writing, Meloy excels at moments that make readers feel slightly sick with grief. Though her stories are sad, they’re not sentimental. She can even be quite funny, usually through her astute observations of character.”

“Beautifully written.”

— Elle

“Meloy is a fluid, confident and talented writer capable of moments of true grace.”

— Publishers Weekly

“Minimalist without being enigmatic, talented newcomer Meloy packs a lot into a small space. An impressive debut.”

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The stories’ fit and polish are remarkable, they are right on the dime with cadence and timing. And Meloy is fearless in the sweep of her attentions, commanding the manners, idioms and fundaments of a range of cultures, regions and classes. Trust this audacious new writer; welcome and enjoy her art. She is a wonder.”

—Geoffrey Wolff

“Maile Meloy writes with both fearlessness and true compassion, two talents that are rarely combined. In every story she creates a complex portrait of such disparate lives that by the end of the book I feel like I’ve seen the world.
Half In Love is a vibrant, gorgeous collection.”
—Ann Patchett

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