Book Review: A Face like Glass

A breathtaking world with realistic characters that’s sure to draw you in!

Frances Hardinge
One of 3 covers from the book, and personally my favorite!

Lyra Lu, Contributor

A Face like Glass

“In Carvana, lies were an art, and everybody was an artist, even young children.”

                                                             -Master Grandible

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A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardringe is an entrancing tale of one girl’s journey to come into herself. The novel is a standalone and is classed under the fantasy genre. I had first read this book two years ago, in 9th grade, and I’ve been obsessed with many of her works since. Though she is a middle grade author, her writing easily surpasses that of many YA novelists; in fact, I’ve found that despite reading mainly YA, most of my favorite books come from the middle-grade. 

A Face Like Glass spins a delicious tale of a fantastical realm, a twisty cavern that is Carvana. Carvana is an underground realm that seems alive, as shown by her ability to shift and move, and make cartographers mad. In fact, their madness is contagious to the point that speaking to one for beyond 5 minutes nearly ensures the same. 

But that’s only one of the few quirks that bring Hardringe’s world to life. In their realm, nothing is what it seems, as they possess wines able to rewrite memory, cheeses that bring visions, perfumes made to ensnare the mind, and balms which slow aging to a crawl. However, in this mystical world, Neverfell is just an average person, at least to you and I, but the world around her is not. Everyone else is a master of deception, armed with a blank canvas, that with the right price, can become an asset to their trickery. Whereas Neverfell’s true emotions pass cleanly onto her face, her peers are unable to display true (or false) emotion without learning them.

There is a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that goes, “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” To Carvana, a world of illusions, Neverfell is the truth that can wreck the thin veil that holds everything together, and that’s what makes her so dangerous, and so wanted.

Despite the absolutely fascinating story, this book does drag on a lot, and lacks many of the classic fantastical elements such as magic or alternate worlds. But the book is compelling and enchanting in its own right, with subtle enchantments, lyrical writing, and a beautiful story. 

This book may take a bit getting into, and it may not keep you on the edge of your seat, but by the end of the book, it will leave you utterly entranced and gasping for more of the slightly maniacal world of Carvana. When reading this compelling book, don’t forget to set that 5 minute timer so you don’t get absorbed into the madness, and always remember, Never speak to a cartographer. Happy reading!

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“Cartographers had no room in their mind for malice or revenge. They would not hate him or try to hurt him. They only wanted to talk to him.”

                                                                                        -Zouelle

Quote from the book that I found online!