Maria McCann's exuberant revivification of grave robbers and gamblers, hucksters and whores in 18th-century London: like Hogarth sprung to life.
(Hilary Mantel, Observer Books of the Year
)Ace, King, Knave deserves to catapult its author into the historical fiction stratosphere inhabited by Hilary Mantel.
)'One of the best, and most readable novels published this year
... a thrilling, unputdownable desperado's journey through high and low life.' (Tina Jackson, Metro
McCann's inventive, spirited romp through Regency London deserves a wide and passionate readership
... Much of the language is recreated from the slang dictionaries of the time, and McCann pulls off an ambitious, linguistic feat without even a suggestion of irritating pastiche. This is technically accomplished stuff, but more importantly, it is utterly engrossing
. (Antonia Senior, The Times Books of the Year
)McCann's eye for detail is impeccable and she approaches the past with all the confidence of a seasoned traveller who feels entirely at home among its mores
... McCann has created a full-blooded world, one in which the reader gladly loses themself, vibrant with the stink and violence of 18th-century London as well as its painted surfaces. This is an immensely satisfying novel, and ought to secure her reputation as a significant voice in historical fiction
. (Stephanie Merritt, Observer
Fizzing with rich depictions of 18th century London, Ace, King, Knave
exposes the underbelly of genteel society to be a world of violence and lies. Fans of Sarah Waters and Peter Ackroyd will devour this dark and twisted tale of vengeance
Brought to life in Hogarthian detail ... McCann unfolds a vivid, ingenious
narrative. (Sunday Times
)Highly coloured but lightly executed
, and reads as though it were an enormous pleasure to write. McCann has chosen a fitting subject for a Georgian backdrop: the age was rich in fakes and imposters, deception and display. (Guardian
)A rollicking historical tale of cards, deception, grave-robbing and double-dealing
. (Marie Claire
Maria McCann is an elegant writer who evokes a world of contrasts and whose two main characters you find yourself rooting for
. I loved her 2010 novel The Wilding
; this one doesn't disappoint. (Daily Mail
)A vibrant portrayal of an 18th-century London every bit as sordid and debauched as that of a Hogarth engraving
... McCann weaves together elegant London and lower-class Romeville, "with its fierce, dirty, exuberant people", to create an entertaining tale of grave robbers and gamblers, hucksters and whores.
)'An absolutely tremendous read.'
(Lucy Inglis, author of Georgian London
novel about different kinds of freedom or entrapment; of the heart, of the body, of convention and class, loyalty and lies ... Exploring the seamier side of 18th-century
- poverty, violence, deceit - its dialogue catches something of the foreignness of the past, and is threaded through with a warmth and lightness of touch that makes McCann's world a pleasure to inhabit
. Highly diverting. (Jane Borodale, author of The Book of Fires and The Knot
- I loved it. The characters leap off the page right from the outset.
The story is utterly compelling. The historical texture, rich and convincing. The writing is breathtakingly good. (R N Morris