Even in this, her debut collection, Belle Boggs displays limitless empathy for her characters and their concerns and conflicts ...as modest as they are all-consuming, illustrating the type of lives forgotten about by the majority of Americans, showing readers how people live ... Mattaponi Queen falters when it rehashes the obvious and clichéd ... These may be realistic portrayals of life on the Reservation but they never show us anything unexpected or surprising. Luckily, such stories are few and far between, and for the most part, Boggs guides her characters down more nuanced paths ... Her superior attention to detail and yeoman-like prose is a joy to read on the page. People read debut story collections for exactly this reason: to witness firsthand the arrival of a talented new voice.
Eastern Virginia tributaries converge in these inter-connected stories largely set on the Mattaponi Indian Reservation, and they reflect that mix of rushing waters, where heritages become indistinguishable ...created funny, but understated, characters and her sharp, clear voice seems suited to stories relatives swap on slightly rickety wooden lawn furniture. They are unvarnished, but full of contradictions and twists of life. ... Inhabitants of this world Boggs has created come together in a bewitching debut.
Boggs’s stories are connected subtly and organically, filled with damaged creatures who live out their tough, wise-cracking existences in Virginia’s semi-rural Mattaponi River region — in its reservation and nearby towns... It takes Boggs twelve words to point to one of the themes of the collection: desertion ... As if to say all the fragile creatures of Boggs’s world — parents, children, husbands, and wives — dodge what dangers they can to survive in the midst of their aching loneliness. Sometimes they find grace ... Intimately familiar with the strange soil from which they grow, each of Boggs’s characters makes fine, heartbreaking attempts to do just that.