Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recommendation: 'A face like glass' by Frances Hardinge

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

At the risk of being hairily splottered I won't say anything bung about the boy with the lightning blob, but lets just say, this is a way interesting book. Some writers write with such relish. They concoct marvelous bubbling conceits then pan outrageous, feisty, sparkly phrases. Think of
The BFG or Railsea. And now heading in that heady direction A Face Like Glass.

Yes, I'm thinking "paradribbles." You know, umbrellas for people underground.. Or maybe paprickle, a spice taken by wannabe eavesdroppers. Or lantern traps, those natural yet eerie yet natural light sources, somewhere between pumpkin, fungi and Venus Flytrap. Or truculent cheeses, insidious wines, or moth biscuits. Or kleptomancy.

I liked how these - and many other! - details were built up and built in. So our understanding of them grew with the story. It wasn't some cluttered clotted D&D paint-by-dice knock-off move on sort of thing, so to speak. Nah, mate, story's got depth.

Which might be because its set in a very deep cave. A maze of caves. A city actually. Caverna. Which seems -peculiarly - almost alive itself, at least according to the Cartographers who have the job of mapping the place. But then they're all mad, mad with verbosity.

All of which suggests the library and babblings of Borges. Or Terry Pratchett. Something to do with the mind-book-maze metaphor thing. Only this has a glorious trippy yarn too. And if after 350 pages you're still feeling pleased with what you're reading.. Well, that says it all. Or this does: her "mind felt stretched, like a frog trying to swallow a dinner plate."

Hah!~ Paul, Birkenhead Library

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