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Choose Your Fate, Define Who You Are

Dark canals, lurking assassins, magical orphans and their familiars: Falcon in the Glass is a proper pea-souper!

Choose Your Fate, Define Who You Are

BOOK REPORT for Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher

Cover Story: Literal
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Beware the Creeping Dark
Bonus Factors: Venice, Familiars, Assassins
Relationship Status: Birds of a Feather

Cover Story: Literal

The cover is what initially peaked my interest; its promise of dark alleyways, scrappy kids and FALCONS. (Full disclosure - I dream of learning falconry. Shut up.)

The Deal:

Renzo is a young glassworks’ apprentice on the Island of Murano in 15th century Venice. Venetian glassmakers were so renowned for their craft that they were sworn to keep their techniques a secret upon penalty of death. (Seriously - death!) Renzo’s father was a master glassworker who was murdered upon order of The Ten (ten Dukes who ruled Venice) as punishment for his brother leaving Venice, glassworking secrets in tow.

So now poor Renzo is the man of the house, responsible for his mother and sister Pia. He is trying to prove his worth as an apprentice to another padrone and is running out of practice time before his exam. When he discovers a girl called Letta, trying to keep warm in the glassworks factory at night, his world is changed. This girl has startling green eyes and a pet kestrel that seems more than just a pet. She is protector of a group of orphans, also with green eyes and also with bird familiars. He’s terrified of losing his place but he knows that if he kicks them out, they will likely die or end up hanged as witches. Renzo has to decide what is more important - following the path he believes has been set out for him or choosing another path by being a true friend to these vulnerable kids. 

BFF Charm: Eventually

Renzo, at first I wasn’t too sure about you. I know that you were grieving the death of your beloved father, but I also felt like you were initially a bit selfish and tunnel-visioned. But when your friends disappeared you couldn’t sleep, you tossed and turned, wondering what was going to happen to your green-eyed friends in prison. So you dug deep, found your courage and came up with a plan. You risked your own life for those that needed you most. You learned what it means to be a true friend and for that I would be honored to call you one of mine.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

There is a definite connection between Renzo and Letta, and it takes time revealing itself. Letta is fiercely protective of her adopted siblings, as well as concerned for their grandmother who is imprisoned. Renzo is initially closed off but over time allows Letta in enough that she begins helping him create his signature work, a glass falcon, which also gets him his apprenticeship. Theirs is more of a friendship than a romance, which feels appropriate given the grave circumstances in which they have all found themselves.

Talky Talk: Beware the Creeping Dark

15th century Venice is not a place you would want to find yourself unless you were wealthy and influential. It is not a place for the different or the vulnerable. The impending doom felt by the characters is well-versed with a murky, pea soup tone that takes you through the dark canals of Venice with an undercurrent of panic and fear. It’s adventurous and rich with detail, while providing true compassion for all of its characters - even the ones who have brought pain and despair to the ones they love.

Bonus Factor: Venice

A city I need to visit before Climate Change turns it into the next Pompeii.

Bonus Factor: Familiars

Honestly - who did NOT want a familiar as a kid? (Or perhaps as a fully grown adult but that’s hardly the point.) I still obsess over what sort of animal my daemon would be after reading His Dark Materials. I may also try to send telepathic messages to my cats.

Bonus Factors: Assassins

We all love assassins. Admit it. Especially when they are given fully realized personalities with a sense that their chosen profession may not, after all, be quite what they wanted out of life.

Casting Call:

Paolo Nutini as Renzo

Mind you he would have to play a slightly OLDER version of Renzo but I’m completely ok with that. I struggled to think of someone who is actually Italian, and Nutini grew up in Edinburgh so I’ve just made a total mess with my casting decisions...or have I? He’s pretty scrummy.

Saoirse Ronan as Letta

Letta is fearless and dedicated. I instantly pictured Ronan when she played the lead in Hanna and it just gelled in my mind for the rest of the book.

Relationship Status: Birds of a Feather

Book, you enticed me with your promises of dark, murky canals, lurking assassins and magical orphans with their feathered familiars. While it took me a while to warm to Renzo, in the end he proved to be the hero I hoped he could be, and for that you and I shall always be pals. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Margaret K. McElderry Books. I received neither cocktails nor money for this review (dammit!). Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher is available now.

Amanda Reid's photo About the Author: Amanda R. is an East Coast girl living in California who will never stop missing a true autumn. She's a bookseller who specializes in kid and teen lit, the leader of FYA Oakland, and bakes a damn fine pie.