Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Romp in Traditional Vampire Folklore: Glass Houses Review

A Romp in Traditional Vampire Folklore: Glass Houses Review

IN A GLANCE: This book is a romp in traditional vampire folklore, mixed with unsuspecting teenagers and a very good, very easy read!

Title: Glass Houses
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Allison and Busby Ltd
Format: My own very battered paperback!
Pages: 348 (but 361 if you include the snippet into Eve’s diary I have in my copy)
ISBN #: 978-0-7490-7951-2

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‘Glass Houses’ follows the story of Claire, and her chance enlightenment into how the strange town of Morganville operates. With the help of Michael, a mysterious young man, Shane, a hot tempered youth and Eve, a 'Goth' with a self professed death wish, she uncovers some of the vampires greatest secrets. Throw in a crazy cliff hanger and you have the perfect easy read for a sunny afternoon!

I should probably make it clear at the outset that this is my third reading of this book, and as always, I literally devour it like a bloodthirsty vampire, which, funnily enough is what the book is all about! Well, maybe not bloodthirsty, but they’re definitely angry for most of this book!

There are a lot of things I like about this book, and some, I have to be honest, I don't. Let's start with the biggest 'area for development' as the PC police say - the plot has some major holes in it. It's a great idea, a town run by vampires, teenagers against the vampires and their human lackys, but in the middle of the Texan desert? Seriously? I thought vampires burned in the sun? Proper vampires do at least. But, I guess what I’m getting at is that, at times, it just reads like it's been thrown together in a quick single writing session, with no edits done and no-one really stepping back to say, 'well, that doesn't quite work there'. There are some happenings in this plot, like Monica and her crazy antics, that you sometimes really find yourself wondering about how it fits with the general plot and whether it was necessary. Now, this kind of thing would usually bug the hell out of me, but funnily enough it doesn't bother me in this book. I can only assume this is because it has some pretty damn good redeeming features.

Moving swiftly on to the first of many positives! The characters, both major and minor, are excellently written. They are, even though they range from half beings to humans to vampires to just outright psycho, all entirely believable (to an extent), and incredibly engaging! Monica's a nut job, but she makes me laugh so much, purely because you know there are girls like her in every high school in the world. OK, maybe not every high school has a posh, rich kid who enjoys torturing others, but you get my gist! It's the subtle exaggerations of the characters like her which make Morganville so exciting to read, because they are, on the whole, very likeable in their own strange little ways.

Something else I absolutely love in this book is the relationship between the inhabitants of the Glass House. They are, essentially, a bunch of social misfits, all bunched together because it’s the only place  safe enough for them, but deep down, the ties that bind them together are a lot more intricate. The best thing about this though, is that it isn’t until near the end of the book that you realize that those relationships have been slowly growing since the first encounter. Caine so subtly inserts little snippets here and there to add more to the foundations that were made obvious in the first encounter that you honestly don’t realize you’re being drawn more and more into their lives. I always, when reading this, associate with Claire, not only because I’m a bookworm and have a ‘book crush’ on Shane, but because when you read this more than once you can see that she is the glue that holds the group together, rather like you as the reader hold the whole world of Morganville together in your head.

Another great thing about this book is how easy it is to get into it. It is the epitome of 'easy reading'. Rachel Caine eases you into the story with such expertise that you honestly don't realize you're addicted to reading the next page until you read the end and there are no more pages to turn. The books are, in my experience at least, truly impossible to read slowly as the further you are dragged further into Morganville, the more you want to read about it.

I won't say more now, because I think it's time you all went out, beg or borrow a copy of this book and give it a try, because honestly, it's one of the best 'first in series' I have read, and I honestly cannot recommend it highly enough! And if you think this book is good, just wait until the next one ;)

‘We were just attacked,’ Claire finally managed to say. ‘By a vampire.’ ‘Yeah, I saw,’ Michael said. ‘No, you don’t understand. We were attacked. By a vampire. Do you know how impossible that is?’ Michael sighed. ‘Truthfully? No. I grew up here, and so did Eve and Shane. We’re just kind of used to it.’ ‘That’s crazy!’ ‘Absolutely.’

Purely because of the plot holes that do annoy me just a tad!

Plot : 15/20 – great initial idea but unfortunately, those plot holes and niggly issues just pull this book down a bit.

Characters: 20/20 – even the crazies in this book are great to read!

Writing:  18/20 – a very easy read, helped greatly by the natural style of Caine.

Creativity: 17/20 – as far as vampire books go, it’s a tweak on the original vamps after humans thing.

Ending: 10/10 – can’t beat a good cliff hanger ;)

Cover: 8/10 – eye catching, but not too ‘in your face’

If you like this, you would like:

 - For the ‘hardcore’ vampire fans who like traditional vampire folklore, try the ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ novels by Charlaine Harris, they’re not for the faint hearted though!

 - Unearthly by Cynthia Hand – Another super natural series based around a girl who’s part angel. A twist on the usual supernatural genre.

 - Skylark by Meagan Spooner is a fantastic book, another compelling, easy read with a touch of magic and darkness to it, a definite must read! 


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