Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index



to e-mail us:

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada


the Complete Review

A Literary Saloon and Site of Review

Magnus Mills
at the
complete review:

biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links


Name: Magnus Mills
Nationality: GB
Born: 1954

  • Worked as a bus driver

Return to top of page.


Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.
Dates given are of first publication.

Return to top of page.


What others have to
say about
Magnus Mills:

  • "I was not wholly convinced by the success of his much-praised debut The Restraint of Beasts, but there is now no doubt in my mind that Magnus Mills is here to stay, and is a very good writer indeed." - Roger Clarke, The Independent (18/9/1999)

  • "The arrival of Magnus Mills on the British literary scene is therefore extraordinarily refreshing. He represents a genuinely avant garde voice who has breathed new life into the genre (if it can indeed be called a genre) by flouting all expectations of what a novel can be about. (...) This is Mills' greatest skill. He can invest banality with horror, mundanity with malignity. He can even render the English countryside menacing. These abilities make him one of the handful of British writers to work in a unique fictional universe. For this, Mills is to be treasured and revered." - William Sutcliffe, Independent on Sunday (19/9/1999)

  • "As in Kafka, a Mills hero is propelled by a series of circumstances that, taken individually, are logical and innocuous but which have the cumulative effect of entangling him in a life where he is no longer in control. Control is the key here. (...) As a novelist he is so refreshingly original -- in terms of style, subject matter and theme -- it is astounding. He is also very funny." - Martyn Bedford, New Statesman (1/11/1999)

  • "Magnus Mills is an unlikely teller of most unusual stories." - Robert F. Geary, World & I (1/2000)

  • "His style is non-middle class, free of that effect of straining to impress one's graduate peers. His subject matter is also ungenteel: a growing sense of dread, incongruously created in a context of small contractors, countrified builders, people obsessed with the manoeuvrability of commercial vehicles and concreting over various bits of the landscape. He is the poet, you could say, of the fuel protesters. His characters drink a good deal of beer -- not to excess, but very steadily and consistently." - Andrew Martin, New Statesman (13/11/2000)

  • "Für diese Fähigkeit, den alltäglichen Horror fast körperlich erfahrbar zu machen, wurde Mills bereits mit einem Großen der Zunft, Kafka, verglichen. Doch der Vergleich hinkt: Mills ist viel witziger, viel versponnener und viel knapper. Mills ist eben Mills." - Gerd Busse, Frankfurter Rundschau (9/1/2003)

  • "Distillations of the everyday, Mills's fabulist communities define their own archaic rules, apparently solid but ultimately fragile. No wonder he cites Gormenghast as a favourite novel." - David Jays, The Observer (23/2/2003)

  • "(W)ith Explorers of the New Century Magnus Mills asserts himself as the genre's blackest, funniest and most astute practitioner." - James Flint, The Telegraph (28/8/2005)

  • "This is Mills's constant theme in his novels: the unbridgeable gap between public intention and individual ability. People are wayward - despite meaning well, they fail to fit into the grand scheme, wandering off, misunderstanding instructions, disobeying the simplest commands, not because they intend to disrupt, but just because they are hopelessly human, and more specifically, English." - Christopher Fowler, Independent on Sunday (28/8/2005)

  • "The only common denominator in his novels is their deliciously deadpan delivery. He is a master of stiff-upper-lip utterances whose ludicrousness only becomes apparent nano-seconds after you have read them." - David Robson, The Telegraph (27/11/2005)

Return to top of page.

Pros and Cons
of the author's work:

  • Dead-pan style, which he has down almost perfectly
  • Humour -- subtle, black
  • Focus on the very common man
  • Writing style -- deceptively simple, unique

  • Books seem fairly uneventful
  • Similarities between the different books

Return to top of page.

the complete review's Opinion

     Magnus Mills' initial claim to fame was his unlikely first success -- bus driver turned author whose first book is then short-listed for two prestigious British literary prizes (Booker, Whitbread). It made for a good story; more significantly, The Restraint of Beasts (1998) was actually a good book.
     Mills wasn't a one hit wonder, either. Arguably his works have continued much along the same lines as his debut -- marked by a dead-pan style, a dark humour, central characters who are a bit overwhelmed by others (and too readily willing to serve). But they've all been enjoyable reads.
     Four novels in five years are just the sliver of a writing career (one hopes), and it remains to be seen in what directions Mills goes. Three to See the King showed he was capable of variations (at least for a while) apart from his workman-related fiction -- though his worker-novels (all the rest) are also welcome because of his ability to capture that specific milieu so well.
     Mills has shown a remarkably composed hand in his compositions: his writing feels well-practiced, like an author very certain of his craft. One looks forward to his future works.

Return to top of page.


Magnus Mills: Magnus Mills' books at the complete review: See also:
  • Index of other Author Pages at the complete review
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction under review

Return to top of page.

© 2003-2009 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links