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Last Night in Montreal
Flattering review excerpts:

“ A knot of a novel."
-The New York Times

“ Mandel tells an utterly absorbing story, pulling readers down the rabbit hole and keeping them racing through its long, strange warrens. The writing is vibrant, and Lilia is a vivid and haunting character. ... Last Night in Montreal is an exciting debut: a thriller, a love story, and a quiet ballad about life's fleeting connections."
-Quill & Quire

“ What carries the tale are the finely wrought characterizations of Eli and Lilia and, unexpectedly, Christopher, the detective, who becomes an essential cog in the expanding machinery of Mandel's plot - yet the book remains far from a whodunit. What we're made to ponder is the mystery of human connection: how it is born, how it fades and dies and revives, how love defines us or leaves us undone.
-The Globe and Mail

“ This taut, gripping debut novel explores the lives of four people who are forever changed when a father takes his seven-year-old daughter from his estranged ex-wife. ... The lost souls in this elegantly compelling novel are ciphers to themselves as much as they are to others, and they will stay in readers' minds long after the final page is turned.

“ Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections."
-Library Journal

“ The pages fly, and the final period leaves a palpable sense of loss."
-Paste Magazine

“ Mandel chooses her words with careful love and arranges them to exquisite effect. At its heart this book is a mystery, a few mysteries; we wait and we wonder while being charmed by Mandel's intricate narrative dance which threads three different moving plot lines together into a perfectly tangled tapestry. Like a tightrope walker's steps above a cobblestoned alley, her lines follow each other with near breathless precision and echo delicately long after the final page has been turned."
-ForeWord Magazine

“ What a great way to start off the new year, finding a spectacular book by a young, new writer. Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel is a stunning debut novel that casts a spell of intrigue over the reader from the very first page. ...While it's Michaela who's intrigued by heights, Lilia is really the tightrope walker in this brilliant tale of desperation and identity. ... Last Night in Montreal is a superbly written story full of surprises and hauntingly beautiful prose. Whatever you do, don't miss this novel."
-Shelley Civkin, Richmond Review

“ Emily St. John Mandel's debut novel is intoxicating. Like strong drink, the tale puts the reader in a different state. Addictive character development and a quickly moving plot may upgrade the status from strong drink to narcotic. You will inhale this book and will probably find yourself wishing that there was a little more left.

Borrowing plotting and an episodic nature from crime fiction or thrillers, Last Night In Montreal is yet essentially a love story. The combination is interesting and makes for good reading. The moments of tension and mystery melt seamlessly into the passages of quiet bliss and because of the tension and mystery exists, the calm moments are always colored by violent potential."

“ A cocktail of neurotic travel, obsession, and misunderstandings...The characters in ... Mandel's book are people who don't understand one another, but more importantly, they don't understand themselves... a very good, fast was refreshing to read about people that are normal yet dysfunctional, intelligent yet confused´┐Żin other words, they're just like most of us out there."

“ This book is almost too good to be true, it has that onion effect, where you think it's going one way and then suddenly switches tones, but only slightly and goes another direction. And while you're catching up, the story peels another layer on top of the one you've just read.
This isn't a book that comes out of a woman who is thirty years old, more like a woman who is sixty years old and has done some living. I don't know if the world is ready for a book this good, something this profound, shockingly real and so hard to put down. ... Above this wonderful character piece are moments of pure beauty and clarity, Mandel writes setting and scene better than anyone working today, at least of what I read. There is a relaxed muscularity to this prose, a kind of educated style that is both impressive and shows a great deal of restraint. It's spare but extremely effective."
-Jason Rice, Three Guys One Book

“ The prose is taut but lush, filled to the brim with writing that way too often punched my throat, grabbed my heart and forced me to put the book on my lap simple in order to catch my breath. ... The end of Last Night In Montreal I had to, unfortunately, read on the N train heading from Queens into Manhattan, due to not wanting to be a horrible human being and end up canceling on plans to, well, to read a book. I recommend, if this should happen to you too, that you choose book-nerd over good person, and keep yourself out of social interaction until you've turned the last page and let the entirety of the sweeping, emotional ending pass through you. Last Night In Montreal is a fully-realized piece of powerful literary fiction-as such, it demands your full attention, and unless you enjoy sobbing in public, you'd better give it what it asks for.
So, to everyone who I ignored by waiting this long to read Last Night, here's your one for the year: you were right. So very, very right. Last Night In Montreal is the harbinger of massive works to come, I hope, because this book, tender and powerful though it is, only makes me want more."
-Russ Marshalek, Baby Got Books

Praise from booksellers

“ I realized that this novel is why I became a bookseller and why after almost 22 years I remain one. To come across a gem like this makes slogging through many many other books we read, ones that may be goodish, ordinary or even bad, all worthwhile. Her voice captivated me from the start and the way the story unfolds kept me reading it compulsively... I really loved this book and thank you for thinking of me and sending it along. I think that Emily St. John Mandel will haunt me like Michael Chabon. Long after reading, the story, the characters will stay with me."
-Michael Fraser, Joseph Beth Booksellers

“ Mandel writes prose that aspires to a delirious perfection. What she gives us in her debut novel is a lot closer than anyone has any right to expect. ... The plotting has all the efficiency and brutality of a steel trap, and all the intricacy of a pilot's watch. The prose rightly shimmers."
-James Liu, Seminary Co'op Bookstore, Chicago

“ I am dumbfounded that this is a debut novel. The pacing is impeccable, the characters are intriguing and well developed. The details the author chooses to highlight are poetic and evocative, and the paragraphs are well crafted... extremely impressive."
-Emily Pullen, Skylight Books, Los Angeles

“ Last Night in Montreal is a rare achievement, a gripping, mysterious and original literary novel about family secrets and the unbearable weight they place on young shoulders. Lilia is a rootless twenty-something who has been running from her past since she was a small child, leaving a trail of broken relationships, abandoned apartments and false identities behind her. When her naive, hopelessly idealistic boyfriend follows her to Montreal after her latest disappearing act, the details of her past begin to come to light.
Emily St. John Mandel is a wonderful and refreshingly unorthodox writer, with a deep compassion for the misfits of society. Her style & sensibilities remind me of the early novels of Michael Ondaatje, and I hope her career is as brilliant."
-Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café Ashville, NC

“ Mandel's debut novel, which is intense and subtle in equal measure, has left me completely dazzled. Lilia, abducted by her father at the age of seven, grows up to be a wanderer, utterly incapable of forming lasting attachments or understanding the concept of home. When she quietly leaves Eli behind, he traces her to Montreal, where Lilia's past and present collide in one mysterious young woman whose training as a tightrope walker stands in sharp counterpoint to her unbalanced mental state. Ultimately this is a novel about urgency and restraint and about both the tragedies and rewards that we reap when we try to push beyond the limits of meaning and understanding. Mandel resists the temptation to tie all three storylines up too neatly, leaving a couple of them to unravel as they may, and I think we can expect great things from this author in the future."
-Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop

“ Last Night in Montreal is one of the best debut novels I've read in years. It's a novel with a secret at the heart of it, a dark center around which the whole story unfolds. Its structure, the way it braids time, moving forward and backward through four lives, is a marvel. I admire books that can do a lot with a little, and this book is certainly one of these. Mandel has built robust, living characters and done so in the minimum time required. It's rare to find such a delicate, brief book that still brings forth so many richly complex characters."
-Pat Brown, Vroman's Bookstore

“ Amazing--that girl can write. The language alone would have kept me reading but the story created such a tension that I lost myself every time I opened the book...I cannot get Michaela out of my mind, latecomer though she was. It goes without saying that Lilia was fascinating..."
-Vicki Erwin, Main Street Books

“ A mystery, a love story, a book about family, about connections and disconnections. It is a recipe for a story that comes together perfectly for a literary meal...In the end, Last Night in Montrealwas like that Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle that ended my dinner at Spago -- a perfect ending that was both bitter and sweet and left me hoping that one day I would be able to come back once again and enjoy another meal from this author."
-Drew Goodman, University of Utah Bookstore

“ Fascinatingly disturbing and well-written, this is a story about movement and inertia, about what not-knowing can do to a person's psyche."
-Alice Meloy, Blue Willow Bookshop

“ Last Night in Montreal took me by surprise in the most wonderful ways... From the very first chapter, I was drawn in to her provocative, delicately grim world full of wanderlust, betrayal, and the quest for answers. Each of [Mandels'] deliciously real characters are searching for answers to the questions of their lives, compelled to hunt them out no matter how shocking or painful those answers may be. Mandel's novel, though relatively short, amazed me with its intricacies and complexities. As days go by, I find myself thinking of more and more reasons I so loved Last Night in Montreal."
-Elizabeth Lewis, Rainy Day Books

“ Last Night in Montreal is composed of beautifully interwoven narratives that glide from one intriguing character to the next, clouded past to bemused present. The clean prose quietly carries the story while letting the plot shine. I was caught and held by the small and large mysteries sprinkled throughout the lives of Eli, Lilia and Michaela, impatient for final revelations but then sorry to see the book end. "
-Jenn Northington, The King's English Bookshop

“ A strangely beautiful book... easy for me to fall into."
-Stephanie Anderson, WORD Bookstore

“ Lilia is sort of a Dean Moriarty-like drifter and the way Ms. Mandel writes is soothing like waves along a river's edge. I loved the desolation but at the same time there's a weird connection between all these characters, who are all full characters. No one, not even the ones that only show up briefly, is less than three dimensional. It was just a very enjoyable read."
-Julia Callahan, Book Soup

“ Mandel's intriguing debut novel begins with the abduction of a young girl, Lilia, by her father, and leads the reader on a twisting journey that is part love story, part mystery. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a suspenseful read.
-Jennifer Meador, Lemuria Books Jackson, MS

“ A poetic, profoundly moving, and intricately structured meditation on the desire for human connection in its many forms... As dense as the memories that shroud Lilia's fractured childhood, what ensues is a veritable stew of misplaced communication. Eli finds himself caught in a struggle to find Lilia as Michaela resorts to desperate measures and Lilia is driven by the need to escape. Driven by the interior lives of all the characters, Last Night in Montreal is a tale of longing and of love, the shadows, light, and riptides of life echoing throughout in this beautiful elegiac story."

“ Mandel writes with refreshing sadness, the mystery and grief in her heart-wrenching story pulls you in and shows you everything in slow motion. And as you continue reading and learning what Lilia is running from and where she is running to, you will find yourself powerless to stop it. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is so full of emotion and history, it is amazing this book doesn't burst at the seams."

“It's jaw-dropping... an incredible piece of writing, at once subtle and complex, perfectly paced and strung with little pearls of lovely writing that stop you in your tracks."

“Last Night In Montreal is a hauntingly beautiful novel of how one abduction, done out of love, could damage so many lives. In a flawless flowing prose, Last Night In Montreal alternates between past and present and in a manner not at all confusing for the reader, seamlessly moving from one family to another. ... Rarely do I encounter a book so beautifully written with a complex storyline that is both devastatingly tragic and at the same time life affirming. I would recommend this novel to all readers and highly suggest this become everyone's next book club pick."