Paraic O’Donnell

Paraic O’Donnell is the author of The House on Vesper Sands and The Maker of Swans. He lives in Wicklow, Ireland, with his wife and two children, and can usually be found in the garden.


  • A darkly gorgeous novel of intrigue and secrets.

    —The New York Times

  • Remarkable. . . . O’Donnell mesmerizes with another stylish, atmospheric tale.

    —Crime Reads

  • Compulsive reading. . . . rich, strange, beautiful.

    —Helen Macdonald, author of Vesper Flights

  • Starts at a leisurely trot and works its way up to a gallop. . . . the first act is meticulous in its preparation for the twists that follow.

    —The New York Times Magazine

  • Evocative and beautiful. . . . O’Donnell is a master craftsman of language and storytelling.

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Stunning.

    —Foreword Reviews

  • Utterly beautiful. . . . An enthralling dance over the line between literary fiction and magical fantasy.


  • Luxuriant.

    —The Guardian

  • The Maker of Swans takes Paraic O’Donnell’s mastery (he is also known for The House on Vesper Sands, his second book) to deep, heart-shaking, and frightening revelations. Brace for flame and sorcery, and a hidden order of the powerful.

    —Historical Novel Society

  • For readers who like secrets to be revealed piece by tantalizing piece.

    —Napa Valley Register

  • I devoured this book and it kept me guessing right to the very end.

    —Laura Barnett, author of The Versions of Us

  • It starts with a bang and keeps going.

    —Jon McGregor, author of Lean Fall Stand

  • Dazzlingly.

    —Jane Casey, author of The Stranger You Know

  • Exquisite.

    —Liz Nugent, author of Unravelling Oliver

  • A mesmerizing book.

    —Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens

  • Has that wonderfully dark, magical feel to it.


  • A powerful thriller.


  • Ensconced in the rich, Gothic embellishments of Mr. O’Donnell’s prose . . . . The House on Vesper Sands performs a . . . kind of enchantment, transforming a chronicle of sordid crimes into an enjoyably eerie ghost story.

    —The Wall Street Journal

  • A thrilling gothic mystery.


  • Practically comes with the mood lighting one would hope for when reading a Victorian-era mystery. Expect pages infused with fog and the clicks of mysterious footsteps…written with modern wit and a Dickensian sense of detail.

    —Oprah Daily

  • That rare mystery that’s at once gripping, elegantly written and very funny.

    —The Seattle Times

  • A tour de force that dexterously blends the drama of Dickens, the sensationalism of Wilkie Collins, and the mystery of Conan Doyle, with added chills and humor poured into the mix for good measure. . . . O’Donnell keeps his reader gripped with his fast pace, ingenious plotting and narrative twists and turns. His re-created world of costermongers and eel vendors, gin shops and boardinghouses, gentlemen’s clubs and séance salons is vividly authentic. Cutter’s punchy dialogue elicits laughs while the soul-stealing and ‘half shades’ imbue the proceedings with a welcome supernatural streak. A fiendishly entertaining winter’s tale.

    —The Star Tribune

  • In this charming jape of a thriller, Inspector Henry Cutter is known around New Scotland Yard for having ‘a weakness for certain exotic cases.’ In the snowy winter of 1893, he’s drawn into a doozy when young employed women around London start to vanish, or—worse, in a way—have their souls stolen by ruthless spiritualists. Preposterous, you say? Not in the hands of O’Donnell, a kind of Oscar Wilde gone tipsy, who drops some Irish whimsy into the harsh reality of Victorian England.

    —Richard Lipez, The Washington Post

  • Vivid atmospherics and frequently comedic dialogue animate this highly polished novel. . . . O’Donnell’s rendering of the past is faithful not only to how people ate, spoke and dressed in 1893, but also to how they thought. Many Victorians, living in an era of scientific and technological progress, felt an opposite pull—captivated by the supernatural, by ghost stories, by spooky phenomenon. The House at Vesper Sands summons up that spirit, beckoning it from a long dead world and into our own.

    —Clare McHugh, The Washington Post

  • The House on Vesper Sands manages to do a hundred marvelous things at once: funny, eerie, tender, haunting and unsettling, smokily atmospheric, and fantastically enjoyable.

    —Helen Macdonald, author of Vesper Flights

  • The most vivid and compelling portrait of late Victorian London since The Crimson Petal and the White.

    —Sarah Perry, author of Melmoth

  • Riveting. . . . Positively bursts with inventiveness.

    —Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer's English

  • A dark atmospheric setting with just a hint of murder.

    —Book Riot's "Read or Dead" Podcast

  • Diabolical and delicious, this is the most enjoyable mystery I’ve read in years.

    —Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens

  • Shivery, suspenseful and altogether delicious, The House on Vesper Sands reads like the classic that Conan Doyle never got around to writing and marks Paraic O’Donnell as a conjuror worth following.

    —Louis Bayard, author of The Pale Blue Eye

  • Stellar. . . . Fans of Sarah Perry (not to mention Dickens and Wilkie Collins) will be captivated by this marvelous feat.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • Truly marvelous. . . . The House on Vesper Sands is poised to be one of the year’s breakout novels and confirms O’Donnell as a major talent.


  • Chilling. . . . an atmospheric mystery that casts a keen eye on power imbalances and gender inequality.

    —Foreword Reviews

  • The House on Vesper Sands is not a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but Paraic O’Donnell’s sophomore effort is the next best thing. . . . O’Donnell brings his story’s humor and darker themes into richly rewarding alignment.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • Dickens is whirling enviously in his grave. . . . Read by a fire on a cold winter evening.

    —The Irish Times

  • By turns smart, surprising and impossible to put down, The House on Vesper Sands offers a glimpse into the strange undertow of late-19th-century London and the secrets we all hold inside us.


  • Explosively compelling. . . . a vividly painted atmosphere that feels so real to the reader, you can almost smell the gin and coal dust.