July 1, 2012
Review - A Face Like Glass (Frances Hardinge)
In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear - at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...
In A Face Like Glass Frances Hardinge created a enchanting and intricately composed tale about the girl Neverfell who one day finds herself in the strange world of Caverna, not knowing where she came from. Little does she know why she needs to wear a mask until she finds out how her face is dangerously different from those of others.
I usually hesitate comparing books or authors which each other, but I just can't resist not to. This novel reads as though Terry Pratchett took a spin on Alice In Wonderland. Yet despite the similar narrative style of both authors, Hardinge's voice has a fresh undercurrent which makes her stand out and certainly doesn't imitate.
Ingredients? Marvelous world building and a cast which, down to supporting characters, is so wonderfully devised. Needles to say, smart and feisty Neverfell captured me the most. Some books read in black and white, and this one is not only full color, but like HDTV in your head. In other words, totally amazing! A book needs to be truly outstanding to make me gush, so hear me roar! After all, how often do you get an intriguing and well wrought plot, lovingly wrapped into a perfectly executed novel with lots of unique and charming characters?
While being aimed at a younger audience I can wholeheartedly recommend the book to every reader who enjoys great writing and fantastical worlds.
In short: What a captivating and magical tale! What are you waiting for? Read it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pan MacMillan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.