This is going straight into my personal ”Favorite & Beast Books of 2013” pile!
Among the mitigating factors why this book became a favorite of mine is that I am a medievalist; I love a good mystery; I spent a year, which included a summer, wandering the countryside of Germany before my senior year, visiting abbeys, cathedrals and castle ruins. Heck, I am even writing a book about my adventures called ‘The Gargoyle Girls’! This story made me feel like I was back there doing it all over again. But more than anything, this book was so incredibly written—from characters, to plot, to descriptions, to making me feel like I was there right along with Lin and her family each step of the way—these alone were enough for me to place it into the pile of personal favorites and best books of 2013.
Helen Grant weaves a tale of mystery and suspense involving not only the stained glass surrounding the legend of the The Glass Demon, Bonschariant, but the mystery of Lin’s family itself. Each chapter unveils a bit of the secret of both. Each step and discovery Lin makes, whether it be about her family, the village, the glass, her emotional status, her father… everything is intertwined, like “a thicket of thornbushes”, as Lin has narrated to us about one of her father’s reading recommendations:
‘“The abbot’s niece.” My father was holding a small hardback book in a faded green binding; now he flourished it to me. “This is a fascinating book,” he added. “You should read it.”
I didn't take the bait. One glimpse of the Gothic title stamped on the spine in gold had convinced me that trying to read even a single page in that typeface would be like picking your way through a thicket of thornbushes. Even if you got to the other side, you would wish you hadn’t tried it.’ (shared from book–location 1821)
Obsessions are a key theme throughout the book, and they all are a lot like “picking your way through a thicket of thornbushes.” (Lin’s fabulous simile of her father’s book) It fits in not only with the dysfunction enmeshed within the family, but also saturates the plotlines. There is not one word that can describe everyone’s specific obsession. Tuesday is obsessed with not being old and labeled a mother. Poly is obsessed with not being fat. Lin’s father is obsessed with finding the glass so much he doesn't have time for anything or anyone else. The laicized priest is seemingly obsessed with convincing everyone the glass does not exist anymore, but… oh, spoilers sweetie… And Lin? Lin is obsessed with a plethora of things, and she can be; she is the protagonist!
The story is narrated by Lin, and though first-person point of view is one of the hardest POVs to write in, Ms. Grant pulls it off without a hitch. There were no problems at all. Not once did the tone drop out of Lin’s voice. In the dark, or in sunlight, or in humor, Lin’s snarky teenage voice shines through. Helen writes with a great use of similes, as shown above in the example. This is still in Lin’s voice, due to her being a very smart teenager. We still see the typical weakness in her actions and choices, same as most teens have. To name a few, her unsure and awkward tendencies when faced with love or lust or the crush of a boy, and being the new kid in school.
I could not put this book down once I opened it up. With the pattern of murders splintering the countryside, leaving a trail of broken glass and feeding the paranoia of the legends and tales of The Glass Demon, it is no wonder this book had me trapped and unable to sleep till I was finished. I would recommend this not only as a family read, as it definitely fits into the Young Adult genre; but also I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a smart, well-written literary thrilling suspense.This review was done for Club Fantasci - April Book of the Month I bought it and reviewed it on my own. All of us did decide if there was one thing we had issue with was how or when or why or what the deal was with the baby brother! Other than that I gave it a solid five stars.