Review: Glimmerglass Faeriewalker Series #1

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Title: Glimmerglass
Author: Jenna Black
Genre: mythic/supernatural fiction, young-adult
Series: Faeriewalker #1
Published: May 2010
Pages: 304
Rating: 4/5

Jenna Black is a prolific author and though many of her books have been listed in my t-b-r pile for a while, this was my first chance to read one. Big picture take on it: I thought Glimmerglass was a fun, involving and an overall fresh take on the Fae. A good interesting beginning to a new young-adult paranormal series. 

Our heroine of half-human, half-Sidhe Fae proportions is Dana Hathaway, a very self-sufficient and capable sixteen year old living in the United States with her burden of a mother, Cathy. Cathy's alcoholism, and the effects on Dana's life are major issues between the two and have been for the majority of Dana's life. Dana's continuing struggles to cope with her mother's serious problem and hiding that problem from the outside world was one of the best parts of the novel; Dana seems to have real problems in a life she's legitimately not happy in, thus making her sudden escape to live with her never-before-met-Fae-father in the half-Fae town Avalon plausible, rather than just a plot device to get her on her own. 

Dana herself was a pleasure. She actually manages to keep her wits about her most of the time. She certainly doesn't ask enough questions when confronted with a clearly sketchy situations and nefarious-seeming people, but overall, she's a pretty genuinely self-aware gal. Another thing I liked was that Dana didn't meet a Fae boy and immediately "fall in love", as unfortunately happens so often in YA novels instead of, you know, actually building a relationship between two characters. When she does meet her gorgeous Fae interest, she is suspicious and keeps her distance, not buying into his "I'm mysterious and here to help you" routine. When he turns out to be kind of a major jerk, she calls him on it and rejects him vehemently, instead of making excuses or ascribing to good intentions at his heart. Or, my least favorite stupid-YA-girl cliche of all, assuming she'll figure out all this later on.
However, it was another female character, not even the genuine Dana, that was my favorite. Kimber, the brilliant younger sister of the above-mentioned Fae love interest Ethan, was just what Dana needed. She's sharp, both her brain and her tongue, but is clearly a lost soul looking for a friend, much like the loner Dana. The friendship between the Fae and the half-fae American is unforced and a high point for both the girls. Kimber has felt ostracized her whole life because of her limited magical abilities and her brothers extreme proficiencies, and Dana has never had a chance to get close enough to people to make strong, lasting friendships. Despite problems, the girls gravitate to one another and strike up a solid relationship. 

Dana's tone through the book is more wry than filled with pity-me melodrama. She accepts that she's got limited choices and makes the best deals she can in all the dangerous situations she continually falls into during her escapades. For a YA novel, it was refreshingly free of a love-triangle, though the possibility is set up for later novels. I'm not too worried over it, however, because Black seems to actually work on causing genuine tension in the mood of her novels rather than relying on romantic angst and betrayal to do it for her. 

Another thing going for this book is originality. The idea of incorporating the Fae into the story of Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, and the War of the Roses was an inspired idea. Pitting the Seelie and Unseelie courts as York and Lancaster respectively gave more depth and compelling history to the series in just one novel. The entwinment of both Avalon and England seems plausible and clever. Additionally, the monsters of the book were creative and new. Spriggans were weird and creepily malevolent, as were the pretty-disgustingly-described Water Witches haunting the Moat of Avalon. 

I found this to be a very well done faerie novel. I read the free novella set in this series a fer years before this book, Remedial Magic, and while very short it had the same light, easy feel as the first book. I have high hopes for the rest of this series.

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