Sunday 9 October 2011

CBR3 Book 76: "The Glass Demon" by Helen Grant

Publisher: Puffin
Page count: 416 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: September 15th, 2011
Date finished: September 25th, 2011

Lin Fox and her family are moving to Germany for a year. Her father is a history lecturer who dreams of a glamorous TV career, and is taking his family with him on a sabbatical year in Germany after he was passed over for a promotion. While driving to the village they're to live in for the next year, Lin and her family come across a dead body. An old man is lying in an orchard, with a head wound, surrounded by broken glass. Lin's father and stepmother are not interested in being questioned by the police, so bundles Lin and her sister into the car and drive off, letting someone else report the death.

Lin's father is in Germany to find a set of legendary and rumoured to be nearly priceless stained glass windows, made by an artist in the Middle Ages. However, the Allerheiligen glass is also rumoured to be haunted by a demon, and anyone connected to them dies horribly. If Doctor Fox can actually locate the glass in rural Germany, his reputation would be guaranteed, and his career secured. Most people seem to think the glass was destroyed centuries ago, though, and the German historian who contacted Lin's dad is dead, drowned in the bath shortly before they arrived in the village.

Most of the villagers are generally hostile towards the English family, and while Lin seems to have made an admirer, Michel, who offers to drive her to school, even he seems to think that Doctor Fox' quest for the glass is a wild goose chase. As more people turn up dead under mysterious circumstances, all surrounded by broken glass, Lin's sister seems to get more withdrawn and insecure, multiple attempts are made to scare the family away, Lin starts wondering if the stories about the demon's curse are actually true.

My enjoyment of heroine's name notwithstanding (as a history buff it amused me greatly, but I can see why she insists on going by simply Lin), I was about halfway into this novel before I realized that it was a mystery novel, and not a paranormal fantasy. Both the title of the novel, and the blurb of the book seemed to suggest that there were paranormal elements to the story. So when they didn't appear, I was puzzled and I suspect it's part of why I may not have been as taken with this story as I could have been. The publishers should possibly have marketed this book differently, as if you're expecting paranormal fantasy, straight forward mystery is not really the same thing, and seemed like a bit of a let down, really. Approaching this book with actual knowledge of the specific genre might add to the reader's enjoyment. The ending of the book was also a bit ambiguous, I'm unsure if the author is setting up for a sequel, or whether the story is complete the way it is written. Either way, I don't know if I'm eager to read anymore about these characters.

1 comment:

  1. The Glass Demon is one of those books I knew was going to be good right from the very first lines. In just two lines 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.