Incredibly rich and atmospheric, this blending of myth, folklore and suspense is the literary equivalent of a symphony. The writing, language and tone...moreIncredibly rich and atmospheric, this blending of myth, folklore and suspense is the literary equivalent of a symphony. The writing, language and tone of The Glass Casket stand on their own, but the combination of elements is what really blew me away. What's even better is that it's impossible for me to label this novel with a genre or style because it weaves together components from across the fictional spectrum.
In a quiet village outside of time, people are dying and no one knows why. First, a group of soldiers are found dead on a remote mountain top. One man is mauled, but the others haven't a mark on them. It has to be an animal, but Tom can't force himself to believe that, even after seeing the bodies.
Rowan dreams of a life beyond Nag's End and the sometimes strange beliefs of the mountain people. However, new arrivals in town, a family secret, and changes in her lovestruck best friend Tom's behavior draw her into the search for whatever is behind the killings. As more people turn up dead, the possibility of monsters becomes frighteningly real.
I didn't know much about this novel when I first picked it up except that the cover and blurb promised something dark and potentially creepy. The Glass Casket sets up a little more like a dark fantasy than a true horror story at first, which gave me pause, but McCormick Templeman surprised me.
Templeman spins a tale of suspense, murder, and dark love in the vein of the great gothic tales, sensual and at times terrifying. The Glass Casket is not only a well-paced, solidly plotted novel, but a rare example of love disturbing in its ferocity, yet utterly undeniable.
The most simultaneously confounding and amazing thing about this novel is the undefined yet somehow crystal clear sense of place and time. There is a distinct village with consistent customs, yet no location. Similarly, it's apparent that this novel isn't set in our present, but pinning it to a specific period is nearly impossible.
Turns of phrase like Tom's mother referring to what other than an animal could have "laid those men so low" while discussing the first killing, and the constant donning of cloaks gives the impression of olden times. References to goddesses also evoke images of ancient pagan cultures. In contradiction, burying the dead in a "cimetiere" is referred to more than once as a practice of the ancients and no longer the way of Tom and Rowan's people. Templeman engaged me in the world, fascinating me with the differences from our own, without pulling me out of the story and making me feel like I needed to do research to understand.
All I can say is that if you're a fan of fairytales (particularly the dark originals), mythology, fantasy, mystery or suspense or any combination of those things, then you should be reading The Glass Casket right now. (less)
I'll cut to the chase. Tris & Izzie was a huge disappointment for me. That being said, it's no fault of Mette Ivie Harrison, who is a beautiful wr...moreI'll cut to the chase. Tris & Izzie was a huge disappointment for me. That being said, it's no fault of Mette Ivie Harrison, who is a beautiful writer. The book well-written and an easy read despite the issues I had. It also has some very nice moments in it, including a realistic mother-daughter relationship (magic aside), true friendship complete with fights, and a commentary on love triangles that made me chuckle.
The problem lies in the marketing of the book. It set expectations, and the book itself was something completely different. It goes against everything I thought I "knew" about the book.
Every mention I heard of this book simply said it was a modern retelling of Tristan & Isolde, which is something I was all for. Then at ALA this year, I learned that there was a love potion involved and I thought, "Excellent! Tristan & Isolde with 15% magic. Sign me up!" After all, in the original story Isolde practices herbalism and, well, potions aren't a far cry from that, so I could buy a little magic.
I had seven chapters of bliss -- sweet love story complicated by an accidental love potion -- before things got weird. That was when I was ambushed by a high fantasy plot, which was clearly a major part of the story and something Harrison intended to be a thrust of the book. I don't think it would have bothered me had I had any inkling that this book would be something more than Tristan & Isolde with a little magical twist, but I felt like I was led astray by the publicity.
Swords and kings I could have handled. I was in no way prepared for elemental sorcery, virgin human sacrifice, two-headed talking dogs that eat magic, and invisible swords that can make you fly. I was dumbfounded by it all and even more astonished that anyone could forget to mention it when talking up a book.
If I had read it expecting more of a high fantasy novel or with no expectations at all then my opinion might be entirely different. Part of me wishes that I could have reviewed this book on it's own merits and leave the marketing out of it, but I was excited about the prospect and the potential this book had based on the pitches I heard. The sad fact is that expectations have a role in our final opinion, and Tris & Izzie just isn't what it was initially made out to be.(less)
I must confess. I am a Greek mythology fangirl. Given my love of all things Greek myth, picking up The Goddess Test was a no-brainer. Sadly, I had a b...moreI must confess. I am a Greek mythology fangirl. Given my love of all things Greek myth, picking up The Goddess Test was a no-brainer. Sadly, I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this book. I almost walked away from it, but I'm glad I picked it up again.
It's been four years since the cancer was supposed to have taken Kate's mother, but she's hung on. Her last request is for Kate to take her home to Eden, Michigan, a town that barely qualifies as civilization. Kate resumes school, which had been on hold, tries to make friends, and attempts to cobble together some semblance of a normal life at her mother's urging. That is until her first attempt being social ends in tragedy and she's forced to make a choice that changes everything.
I have to say I was a little disappointed in the actual deal. Okay, I know it's a retelling/reimagining of the Persephone myth but I missed the deception, the gimmick if you will, that traps Persephone (or in this case Kate) in the underworld. Remember, she's tricked into eating four seeds of a pomegranate and thus condemned to live in the underworld for four months a year? Instead it's just decided that Kate will be there six months. No rhyme or reason. No trickery. It felt like a set-up for a kinder, gentler version of the classic myth. She struck the deal so there's no one to resent.
Aimee Carter created a take on the underworld that hooked me, a cast of characters whose interactions kept me reading and a concept that made me want to see the book through to the end. However, irregular pacing, tepid romance and excessive amounts of exposition and introspection made that a challenge. There were also parts of the book that felt forced and made the flow of the story feel less natural.
I actually got to the halfway mark or a little further and put the book down for a while. I'd enjoyed what I read so far, and I wasn't turned off by any one specific thing. I simply wasn't invested in the way that makes you need to finish a book.
The Goddess Test wound up being a pleasant read with a mostly unexpected ending that left me satisfied. Mostly, the story just felt longer than it needed to be. But if you aren't a Greek myth snob (yes, I admit it) and you don't mind a slower pace then you'll probably like this reimagining quite a bit.(less)