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Through a Glasss, Darkly

Wil has discovered the most deadly weapon in her father's kingdom. It's Wil herself, The Glass Spare.

Through a Glasss, Darkly

BOOK REPORT for The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

Cover Story: Nice Menagerie
Drinking Buddy: Cautious
Testosterone Estrogen Level: The Gloves are Off
Talky Talk: On Repeat
Bonus Factor: Steampunk
Anti-Bonus Factor: Stockholm Syndrome
Bromance Status: On to Glory

Cover Story: Nice Menagerie

A beautiful, very detailed glass sculpture that has a lot to do with the story. It was so eye-catching I never noticed it until I sat down to write this review. The amber on black colors don't catch the eye.

The Deal:

Fifteen-year-old Wilhelmina 'Wil' Heidle is fourth in line to her steampunky kingdom's throne, and the only girl. Knowing she'll never be more than a spare heir to the king, she excels as a spy for her father and a procurement agent for Gerdie, her sickly next-older brother. Wil takes after her mother, the queen: she has the soul of a wanderer, wanting to ditch castle life and see the world.

There are strange rumors about Wil, that she and her mother survived her birth under strange circumstances, that Wil was born under a curse, that she has evil within herself. All nonsense

Until one night, when Wil and Gerdie get in a rough spot in town. And Wil realizes she has developed the ability to transform any living thing into glasslike precious jewels. After throwing the ruby shards of their attacker into the river, the siblings realize no one must ever know of this. War is coming and Wil's father and their power-hungry middle brother would want to turn her into a horrible weapon or assassin. Wil takes to wearing gloves while Gerdie desperately tries to find a cure.

But one fatal evening Wil makes a mistake. A tragedy happens. And Wil must flee the kingdom. Everyone thinks she's dead. Her only hope is a wizard who lives in the enemy kingdom. But before she can make contact, Wil is waylaid by revolutionary Loom and his--wife? girlfriend? friend with benefits?--Zay, who are determined to use Wil's curse to their own ends. What's a princess to do?

Drinking Buddy: Cautious

Wil and two of her brothers were exactly the sort of people I'd like to have in my corner, all cagey and smart and ruthless. On the other hand, she did have a bit of a Pollyanna vibe when it came to her gift. Hey, if someone's trying to kidnap you, it's okay to give them the old glass touch. But I guess that's easy for me to say.

Testosterone Estrogen Level: The Gloves are Off

Wil was pretty much the epitome of the modern princess: smart, cagey, and willing to leave a guy coughing up teeth in the alley. She and her brothers have been sneaking out of the palace since childhood. Gerdie sends her to the scummy side of town to buy chemicals for his alchemy experiments without worry. She risks her life more than once to help someone in need. On the other hand, she really does kind of let people push her around (see anti-bonus factor).

Talky Talk: On Repeat

The book was a nice blend of fantasy and sci fi (see bonus factor). Wil and Gerdie were truly likeable, but not many other characters were. And about 30% of the book was this:

Loom: You're going to help me overthrow the tyrant!

Wil: I'll escape as soon as you let your guard down!

Loom: You wouldn't do that (flirty wink).

Zay: Let's just kill her.

Wil escapes, Loom recaptures her.

Repeat.

 Bonus Factor: Steampunk

So Wil lives in a world that is clearly not our own. A world of magic and pirates, but with cars, telephones and data glasses (they instantly tell the user information about whatever they're looking at). Wil's kingdom prefers magic to technology. Gerdie is a genuine alchemist. And what boy hasn't secretly fantasized about having his own lab in the dungeon, mixing up random powders until an explosion rocks the castle?

Anti-Bonus Factor: Stockholm Syndrome

It's obvious that the author is setting up Loom to be kind of the romantic interest. A rugged revolutionary and sailor, he and Wil share similar life philosophies, wanderlust, and secret shames. And oh, those sexy tattoos and dimples!

Except, you know, he's kind of throwing this all in Zay's face. They have some kind of open relationship, but that's still kind of rude. Which is maybe why Zay knocks Wil around, and stabs her once. Wil, of course, is so badass that she shrugs this off as female bonding, but still.

Oh, and Wil's only fifteen.

And...Loom freakin' kidnapped her! No! Bad! I don't care how ripped and angsty he is, the word 'captor' should not describe your potential boyfriend. He tied you up and locked you on a ship. You don't have to worry about his health.

Bromance Status: On to Glory

I liked Wil enough to want to see how all this plays out. Hopefully in the next book she'll find a group of friends who don't hold knives to her throat.

FTC full disclosure: I received neither money nor ruby shards in exchange for writing this review.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.