Reviews of IN THE CAGE


“This is a masterful mashup between genres, matching the masculine violence of the cage match with country-tinged, Mamet-esque dialogue that elevates these characters into rich portraits of desperate people living for sheer survival.

“A crime novel with the pulse of a sports drama and the bitter toxicity of the best country noir.” – Kirkus Reviews


“Hardcastle’s sentences are clean and hard, but the combinations are complex and deliberately crafted. Imagine the slow wrapping of a fist, knuckle by knuckle, and you get a sense of how Hardcastle tightens his narrative with a precision physics that’s grim, hypnotic, sometimes heartbreaking, always humane…

“Whether you like a fight or not, chances are, something in this novel will move you. In the Cage is a fierce, beautiful book.” – The Globe and Mail


“Hardcastle tells this saga of lowered expectations in short, action-based (and often dialogue-heavy) scenes that forgo the internalized monologues, commentary and descriptive passages so prevalent in contemporary CanLit. The effect is to firmly anchor the action in a culture and an economy that negates the inner life and the ability to reflect upon and change the course of one’s actions. It also bestows upon the novel’s many fights, staged and spontaneous, and scenes of violence a thrilling immediacy.

“This is not to say that Hardcastle’s style is invisible. When the action demands, he successfully relocates the rolling, Biblical sentences pioneered by Hemingway, Faulkner and McCarthy to his small-town Ontario milieu, and the dialogue is as punchy as Elmore Leonard’s, though deliberately less comic.” – The Toronto Star


“In addition to refining his prose to whip-sharp precision, the almost obsessive attention to craft on a line-by-line basis resembles the instinctual ability a fighter develops through months and years of rigorous drills and practice routines…

“Hardcastle’s signature style – a kind of rural poetry that includes stylistic flourishes, neologisms, and evocative use of compound words – is closer in spirit to McCarthy than Hemingway.” – Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire fall preview, featured title


“There is focus and energy in Daniel’s quiet rage… rather than employ a commonplace, Tarantinoesque approach juxtaposing the violence with humour or camp, Hardcastle provides no adornments. His economical writing resembles dispatches from a war zone…” – Stephen Knight, Quill & Quire


“Hardcastle’s descriptions of crimes and brawls spare no gore, but they also possess an elegant choreography that is vivid, energetic, and well paced… In The Cage — like its protagonist, Daniel — is well structured, engaging, and hard to dislike.” – Shawn Syms, Foreword Reviews