I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Published by Random House LLC on 2014-02-11
Genres: Friendship, Love & Romance, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal. Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again. Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
It is rare when the contents of a book are as lovely as the book’s cover, yet The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman has a gorgeous cover and the most delicious prose. I found the book to be reminiscent of the most dark and dangerous Grimm fairy tale. It’s a young adult book that was quite unexpected in how not tame it was. Initially, I had picked The Glass Casket to read because of the beautiful book cover, I figured it would be one of those fantasy-romance type books that I love so much. What I got was much deeper and darker. Templeman’s book is more literary than it is commercial, yet it is accessible and richly woven. This is a book that will not work for everyone, there’s a whole lot of blood involved and some instant love, but one that I, personally, really enjoyed.
In the village of Nag’s End, far to the north of the kingdom, an evil has been unleashed. Five men and horses came thundering to the mountain, only to end up brutally dead. From there, a string of gruesome murders occurs where victims find their hearts ripped from their chests and their bodies drained of blood. Rowan Rose, a female villager, is focused on her studies and has a few theories about the murders. Her best friend Tom is increasingly obsessed with Rowan’s cousin Fiona Eira, a raven haired beauty who just arrived in town. Rowan is forbidden from talking to Fiona. Meanwhile, Rowan’s dad, Henry, has just written to the duke about the murders and is about to host the duke in his house because it’s the nicest one in the village. Two witches beckon to Rowan, but she avoids them because her dad has basically forbidden her from talking to witches. Furthermore, the villagers of Nag’s End are worried about the dead rising because the duke has forbidden them from giving proper burial rights such as burning the body if it takes longer than 24 hours to get to the body and prepare it for the Goddess. Will Rowan be eaten by the mysterious creature or will she go on to study in the palace city? You will have to read McCormick Templeman’s The Glass Casket to find out.
If you are the sort of reader who likes your female lead characters to be studious and courageous, you will really gel with Rowan Rose. She’s quite level headed and logical. She has dreams of studying at the palace, even though that is not quite conventional for females. You see, women in this book are typically married off and once married, they can’t pursue their dreams, instead they have to help their husbands. So, Rowan does not want to get married because that means her dreams will be for naught. I will admit, there are moments in the book where Rowan is super stubborn and it’s like, come on you are making a bad life choice. However, the book would be so boring if she always made the right choice and did not have flaws. Instead, I thought she made for a fascinating heroine and had an interesting journey of growth and development as a protagonist.
There definitely is romance in McCormick Templeman’s sophomore novel. You see, Rowan gets a twinge of jealousy when Tom falls so madly in love with Fiona Eira. It hurts her deep inside, making her chest heavy and painful. Yet, Rowan doesn’t really love Tom. In fact, while she gets several marriage offers in the book, there’s one suitor that comes totally out of left field. Yet, he’s perfect for Rowan. Let’s just say there is some unexpected slow burns and some kissing and it is perfectly crafted. If you are the sort of person who likes instant love, you will probably like Tom’s romance with Fiona Eira, he sees her and is immediately in love with her. It is literally love at first sight. Yet, tragedy awaits.
The Glass Casket is the sort of book that deserves it’s descriptor as atmospheric. It is gorgeously rendered. The book may be brief, but it’s world is intricately detailed, right down to Nag’s End custom and tradition and society. You can almost feel some strange beast lurking in the darkness as you read and unravel the mystery. This is the sort of fantasy book that is best suited to lovers of old school fairy tales where you don’t always get the happy ending. If you like Margo Lanagan’s writing style or that of Marcus Sedgwick, you will really like The Glass Casket. It’s got fantastic prose, and makes use of various third person perspectives following several different characters. It is dark and does not shy away from the grotesque or the scary. I highly recommend this book to people who need a break from the commercial and want to sink into an all encompassing read on a dreary, rainy day.