What they say...

Reviews of Feather Man

‘Rhyll McMaster’s debut novel is simultaneously a portrait of an artist, an examination of the emotional alchemy from which art is born and a coming-of-age tale. The juxtaposition of mystery and harsh grit lends the book a compelling friction. Finally, it is the sheer distance from the identity she built around place and past…that enables Sooky to locate herself outside of the cramped house the featherman built for her.’

Helen Oyeyemi, author of The Icarus Girl, New Statesman,
(UK review)17 April, 2008.

Feather Man is at once both unflinching and poetic. McMaster’s unique perspective illuminates the hidden corners of the lives she portrays.’

Catherine O’Flynn, author of What Was Lost. (UK review)

‘I think Feather Man is quite wonderful. Beautifully written. Engrossing and utterly involving and it does something new.’

Maureen Freely, author of Enlightenment. (UK review)

‘Let me say first that Rhyll McMaster is an extraordinary writer. Her prose is dazzling, poetic and thought-provoking, and this is literary fiction at its best…I have likened Rhyll McMaster to Margaret Atwood.  Atwood is brilliant, but in my view McMaster is even better…my money is on Feather Man making the Booker Prize longlist here.’

Lisa Glass, Vulpes Libris (UK online review)

‘Rhyll McMaster has struck gold with her debut novel of betrayal and loss…This is a stunning, dark story with tight, controlled prose. Unforgettable. *****(five stars)’

Good Reading Magazine – June, 2007

‘… I think it would be a good choice for book clubs as there can be different reactions both to the adventures and the structure of the story.’

Eve Abbey in Abbey’s Bookshop newsletter, 
Issue #215, August 2007.

‘…a well-structured and accomplished character-driven work…a flowing, subtle and rewarding read.’

Australian Bookseller and Publisher, April-May 2007

‘McMaster achieves many brilliant effects…a tour de force of vivid and surprising imagery and allusion …Her eye for detail, for recognizing the exceptional in the most mundane of things, illuminates these pages. The seedy ordinariness of life in London is superbly conveyed.’

Andrew Riemer, Review of the Week in The Sydney Morning Herald,
28 April 2007

‘…a novel which explores the impact of childhood sexual abuse on adult life ...a brutal tale, but an exquisite read, full of the most satisfying psychological truths.

Ramona Koval in The Book Show, ABC Radio National, 6 June, 2007.

‘Rhyll McMaster tosses us in at the deep end …It’s a masterstroke…she makes this novel so much more than a simple story: in the clever patterns of imagery, the brilliant descriptions, the narrative structure and the understanding – more and more absent from contemporary fiction – that a good novel has something to say about the world’.

Kerryn Goldsworthy in The Australian, Review, June 2 - 3, 2007.

‘McMaster is interested in the fragility of identity and the dynamics of personal power. This superb first novel is beautifully written but not for the faint-hearted. …in a class of its own.’

Christina Hill in Australian Book Review, July-August, 2007.

‘…a novel about privacy, about an experience so secret and so traumatically internalized that its effects go on reverberating long after the child victim has grown up. In tracing Sooky’s progress from a traumatized suburban childhood to the beginnings of a successful international career as an artist, McMaster charts the emotional complexities of dependence, loyalty, cruelty and betrayal…’

Kerryn Goldsworthy in The Australian Literary Review,
July 4, 2007.

‘Rhyll McMaster is not afraid of the big themes … The novel’s final sentence, the perfect way to end it, will leave you gasping… It’s a treat to read the work of someone who can express things so compellingly. I am itching to read McMaster’s next novel.’

Louise Swinn in Overland 189, 2007.

‘A searing first novel… a disturbingly believable character… The conflict between her romantic compliance with her imprisonment in male constructions of women’s roles, and her rebellious insistence on her right to freedom… is deeply insightful and powerfully conveyed. The narrative is skillfully managed… leading the reader gradually to an understanding of the profound conflicts… and ending with a characteristically cruel, funny, back-to-the-beginning last line.’

Anthony Hassall, Emeritus Professor of English Literature,
James Cook University,in Westerly, Vol. 52 2007.

‘Moving from a sleepy 1950s Brisbane to a grubby London of the 1970s, McMaster’s narrative is at once both intense and detached; she renders the lived experience…with painful clarity. … the search for identity in all the wrong places. … an impressive first novel – rich, darkly funny and disturbing.’

Rachel Slater in Australian Women’s Book Review,
Vol.19 No.1 2007.

‘…black comedy, of the fierce and painful kind, full of disasters and farcical pratfalls and trust betrayed.… a getting of wisdom steeped in social satire, with elements of the fairy tale (Cinderella meets Bluebeard) and Greek myth…Her adult voice… is remarkable for its poise and concision, its irony, its trenchancy. Her adult eye is relentlessly sharp… the momentum is irresistible. …the last word… coming as it does with the full weight of the book behind it, hits like a whiplash.’

Beverley Farmer, author, in Island 110, Spring 2007.

Other readers say:

‘I love your book…I found it chilling from half-way through and couldn’t put it down. It really is a stunning achievement… I see it as a powerful women’s book… all women…. I reckon Feather Man would make a great film. What I love is the grappling with emotional complexities and the insights which result. That’s what for me is most absent from contemporary writing and it’s what Feather Man delivers in aces.’

‘I can’t get my head out of Feather Man! But when I do, I can’t stop thinking about it! I love it. It has taken me right back to those puzzling and troubling days. Your sharp eyes and incisive prose have captured everything so acutely.’


Reviews of Late Night Shopping

"Her poems are a showcase for the mind at work... her uncanny ability to describe such a state of unknowing puts her among the more interesting poets writing today."

​Bronwyn Lea, Australian Book Review, May 2012.

"...her real skill is to craft a devastating last line - often simple and plain-speaking, but remarkable in its resonance. ...there is something dark and vital at the heart of them all, an ability to stare directly at death and at the limits of our consciousness, and confront the questions that challenge the ways we live."

Fiona Wright, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, May 26-27, 2012.

"...underlying all of them, is the exploration, with all the impressive resources McMaster can bring to bear, of what it means to be (or to have) a self. In one poem, dealing with the way the mind is "embodied and embrained", she writes "there will never be another/piece of furniture like me"; it may seem only a clever metaphoric way of saying that each human is unique despite our similarities, but it is tempting to read it as reminding us what a distinctive poet she is"

​Martin Duwell, Weekend Australian Review, 7 July, 2012.

"... this poetry is deeply meditative, a wise compendium... Language becomes a precise tool for piercing through the losses that time and space forge, for re-imagining the why and how of existence."

​Judge's comments for The Age Book of the Year Awards, 4 August, 2012.