Audrey Thomas is not a romantic, nor is she a narrow satirist of false sophistication. She is a realist and a terrible comedian who exposes her characters in a light like 'like the intense glare of the sun against the white walls of the houses'.
Globe and Mail
The author's writing is stylistically brilliant.
Audrey Callahan Thomas's specialty is not a region but a gender. She is intensely, assertively feminine...Mrs. Thomas's perceptions...are brillant
New York Times Book Review
An assured stylist whose elegant turns of phrase and convincing incorporation of period details are put to good use here, Thomas vividly portrays Letty in her London element, where the scenes depicting her lukewarm courtship with George are wonderfully cringe-making.
Thomas constructs a romantic, sometimes comic adventure spiced up with vivid images, tropical redolence, and the lurking spectre of violence. The period ambiance and conversational rhythms are deftly captured. Thomas is especially good on the solitudes of Victorian marriage.
Quill & Quire
A beguiling and assured tale that’s nimbly told.
The castle and those who once passed through it give Local Customs an almost gothic flavour, appropriate considering how Georgians and Victorians devoured such stories. Thomas has stripped away the flowery accoutrements of these 18th- and early 19th-century novels, but not the details that give a novel and its characters life, or the pacing that underlies the mystery.
The ambiguity of the novel only contributes to the haunting, dreamlike feel of this stunning book from one of Canada’s great, too-little-lauded literary figures.
Local Customs is a story with a mystery at its core, but also an examination of the systemic subjugation of individuals for reasons of gender or race. In one sense, this is the story of a colonial governor and his lady – a woman who was believed to have been either murdered or died by her own hand. In Thomas’s hands it gains resonance and becomes the story of a not uncomplicated life and a woman capable of leaving it without regrets.
[Audrey Thomas’s] plot is clever, and with close attention to detail, she spins a narrative both nuanced and suspenseful, a skillful slice of good storytelling.
London Free Press
The dramatic death of L.E.L in an exotic and remote place – seemingly by her own hand with prussic acid – became a cause célèbre in its day, and various theories have been expounded on it ever since. The novel’s ending is not overt but gives enough clues as to who, or what, might have been responsible, and it may inspire readers to research the real story for themselves. Recommended for its mystery and fascinating historical setting.
The first line of Local Customs, enticing and chilling, floats on its own page between the dedication and prologue. Audrey Thomas casts a spell with, “Letty: I can speak freely now that I am dead.”
In this fascinating book, Thomas’s best, we find a complex portrait of a highly interesting woman whose better –and worse-qualities destroy her.
Literary Review of Canada
Among the many voices that narrate the novel, Letty speaks from the grave to the reader, a chilling effect that brings historical Africa into perspective.
A fascinating novel.
Parry Sound North Star
The nightly disturbances outside Letty's door are so hair-raising, they bring to mind Shirley Jackson's ghost story, The Haunting of Hill House. There is no question that such a setting as Gold Coast castle would be haunted, given its abominable history. Audrey Thomas is adept, as always, in depicting the influences - the local customs- of the era, both in Western Africa and in England.