the invisible ones

stef penney

‘The mystery element of the story is adroitly handled, as clues and subtle

inconsistencies in the Janko story are dropped in. Yet its destination is a total

surprise, and if that is because it stretches the bounds of credibility, Penney is

confident enough to let her characters say exactly that. The Invisible Ones is

a book about love, deception, growing up, belonging, being an outsider and

about how all our presents are haunted by our pasts. Its author is a supreme

story-teller on top form.’

The Times

‘Penney takes her time building suspense and drawing us into the heads of her

characters, but never lets up on intriguing and mysterious situations…

She knows how to tell a story, how to reach her readers and hold them from start

to finish. Indeed, she may be one of the best storytellers we have at the moment.’

The Scotsman

‘Stef Penney’s luminous second novel … was absolutely impossible to put down.

Penney’s formidable literary gifts will hypnotize readers…

Her very different but equally absorbing second novel is sure to mesmerize readers

from page one until its shocking, albeit deeply satisfying, ending.’

Bookpage (US)

‘In her mesmerizing sophomore outing, Penney wraps a riddle in a mystery inside

an enigma that intrigues from the very first page… Fast-paced, with characters

who will live in full color inside the reader’s head, Penney delivers an impressive

follow-up to her debut bestseller, The Tenderness of Wolves.’ 

Publishers Weekly (US)

‘What readers will remember is the way of life that Penney describes so evocatively

and the myth-exploding details about travelling families… Hard to put down.’

The Literary Review

‘If her debut was a literary Western, then her new tale is something of a bookish

version of a Bogart puzzler. As a film graduate, Penney’s approach to prose is

cinematic and inclusive.’

Independent on Sunday

‘Penney is a good storyteller. She unfurls various mysterious plot possibilities and

unearths the insecurities that lurk in families and relationships. She imagines the

Romany world carefully, avoiding cliché or judgement or anything too negative...

There are moments of transcendence here, moments where Penney’s writing

really excels.’

Sunday Times

‘The story ends with a bone-rattling surprise…Another stunner from Penney;

highly recommended.’

Library Journal (US)

‘This is a beautifully crafted novel with skilful characterisation and a plot which

twists and turns… This story of loss, deceit and family tragedy lingers long after

you’ve finished the book.’

The Daily Express

‘It would take far longer than my allotted space to explain the dense plot of this

highly impressive thriller... A terrific novel with much disturbing wisdom amid

the thrills.’

A N Wilson, Reader’s Digest

‘A thoroughness underpins Penney's atmospheric creation, and she is totally free

from sentimentality… Penney makes her Romanies recognisable individuals with

whose fates we are involved. Where will she take us next?’

The Independent

‘The skill and dedication to her craft shines through in her second novel...

The intrigue that is introduced in the first few pages rarely wears thin. The book’s

fluidity and pace is generally maintained by Penney’s excellent characterisation.

Lovell is a flawed but likeable lead with stereotypical traits that have been

presented many times before but rarely this well...

This time around Penney has aimed for a character piece. Her characters are her

environment: deep and well developed...

Happily Penney has crafted an arresting tale that is engrossing and leaves space to

amuse the reader. It is a testament to the depth of her fictional world that, while

the original mystery is solved three-quarters of the way through the book, loose

ends are left to be tied up. Indeed the novel finishes with a great sense of closure

as characters you have genuinely invested in reach satisfying conclusions.

After writing a bestseller at her first attempt, Penney has avoided second book

syndrome, delivering a dark and remarkably gripping novel.’

The Big Issue

‘A gripping novel... Like the film Chinatown, there is shared mood and mystery,

a slow clearing of muddied waters.’

Glasgow Herald

‘She explores the bonds and secrets that bind a family particularly well, especially

in a community which is suspicious of the outside world… Penney is expert at

setting a scene and creating compelling characters… The Invisible Ones is a

compelling mystery and Penney is a talented storyteller.’

The Irish Independent

‘With every chapter a miasma seeps into the story, emanating from dark history,

family tragedy and wayward behaviour that will both upset and unsettle you.

A fabulously superior mystery.’

Sainsbury’s Magazine

‘The moody nourish tone is expertly done… The Ingenuity and audacity of

Penney’s plotting and the final twist will make you gasp.’

The Lady