Book Review: The Glass Demon
I received this book for free from Penguin NZ in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Glass Demon by Helen Grant
Published by Puffin UK on June 22nd 2010
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural, Mystery/Thriller
Source: Penguin NZ
Buy from: Amazon • Book Depository • Wordery
The first death: Seventeen-year-old Lin Fox finds a body in an orchard. As she backs away in horror, she steps on broken glass.
The second death: Then blood appears on her doorstep - blood, and broken glass.
The third death: Something terrible is found in the cemetery. Shards of broken glass lie by a grave.
Who will be next?
As the attacks become more sinister, Lin doesn't know who to trust. She's getting closer to the truth behind these chilling discoveries, but with each move the danger deepens.
Because someone wants Lin gone - and won't give up until he's got rid of her and her family. Forever.
This review was previously published on my now-offline book blog, On The Nightstand. I republish it here for posterity, and also so others can discover new books.
The Glass Demon is one of those books I knew was going to be good right from the very first lines. In just two sentences Grant effectively sets up a feeling of impending doom, and with the third sets up the first death – and thus the rest of the book. With such a strong opening, standards are high for the rest of the book. But Grant’s elegant writing and careful plotting make for a page-turning novel that gets better and better with each chapter.
In a YA paranormal market awash with vampires, werewolves and the like, and set in English-speaking parts of the world (mostly the United States of America), The Glass Demon stands out thanks to its slow-building series of mysterious events and deaths due to uncertain demonic causes, and (more importantly), its German setting. It is that German setting that adds to the sense of isolation and strange discovery – while main character Lin is fluent in German enough to communicate with the townsfolk and attend school, her family is not. So not only are the family isolated by the tight-knit community into which they have arrived, as well as their out-of-cell-coverage, but also by language.
But not only does Lin have to play translator for her family with regards to their new home, she also attempts to play translator within it. From the outside they look like a wonderful family, but if they themselves were a portrait made of glass it would be full of cracks. Grant deftly combines the internal family problems with the external attacks on them, and ties the whole thing together with the foreshadowing of impending doom for one of them. All in all it makes for a compelling drama, in and outside the family.
The paranormal/horror aspects are very well-handled too. The clues to the mystery are tantalizing, while the twists and new discoveries kept me turning pages to see what happened next. The Glass Demon was definitely one of those books that once picked up I could not put down, and Lin’s first person narration was excellent at building up the tension and was filled with wonderful lines and pieces of imagery. In fact, I found Lin’s voice to be at its most beautiful at the most tragic of moments, and the juxtaposition there made for absolutely breathless reading.
Overall, The Glass Demon was a compelling piece of drama and horror that captured me from the first page, and its combination of religious, historical and German elements made it a stand out read. I highly recommend it.