I’d like to take the time today to review one of my favourite books of all time. This is a book I happened to stumble across one time when I was at the library. This was the first time I was house sitting, so I was going to be on my own at someone else’s house for about a month, and I thought I should borrow some books before I went, to give me something to read. This would have been around 2012. Since then, I have felt the need to go out and buy this book, along with everything else that I could find by this author. I found myself insanely in love with the worlds and characters that Frances Hardinge put into books.
A Face Like Glass. The title is the first thing that compelled me to pick up the book. I mean, a face like glass, what did that mean? Was there someone with transparent skin? Then came the cover. A girl in a cage, above who knows what? Mysterious things? Yes, colour me intrigued. The blurb? Wonderfully intriguing without explaining anything. I was sold on the fact that I desperately needed to borrow and read this book.
I couldn’t put it down. It was one of those books that rekindled my love of books. If you ever get those times when you struggle to read, despite desperately wanting to read, you know where I was at. Then I found this book which trapped me inside its payments almost from the first page.
Neverfell was a wonderfully curious young girl, in a world she didn’t understand. I was positively delighted to discover the world of Caverna through her rose tinted glasses. A delightfully dark world deep, deep underground, Caverna is a sprawling system of caverns, where people are used to wonderfully marvellous things as a course of every day life.
Grandible, who takes on baby Neverfell after she fell in some cheese he was making, introduces us to a world we don’t quite understand. When she finally ventures beyond his home, we learn that Neverfell is somehow special. For, in the world of Caverna, expressions are learned. They’re crafted by people who imagine what it is an emotion is supposed to look like. Nuances are valued highly by the upper crusts of society, who can afford to hire the best face crafters. Neverfell, meanwhile, has a face that clearly shows what she’s feeling. Unlike the blank-faced people of Caverna, she stands out like a sore thumb.
There was so much that I loved about the world of Caverna. There were the amazingly deep characters, and the premise of people who’s faces were an empty canvass, but then there were so many more intricate details woven into the tapestry of Caverna. There was the cheese which gave you marvellous visions, the wine which helps people forget or remember something of their choice. The jelly that was filled with the sounds of songbirds. Of course, then there was Caverna itself. A world where cartographers go insane for trying to map things out, and those who speak too long to a cartographer find themselves likewise beginning to go insane.
Frances Hardinge captured a wonderful world within her novel that I felt as though I would never experience the wonderful like of again. Indeed, finding such a wonderful, intricate world as this is a rare find. Since reading it, I have tried to pawn this book off on so many friends. I have shoved it at people, explaining how wonderful the world was, how intriguing the characters. Unfortunately, many of my friends have not yet taken me up on this, and I have yet to have someone to discuss this wonderful book and world with.
I cannot possibly express enough how amazing this book is. The story is wonderful and compelling. The characters realistic. The world phenomenal. I have already read this book three times, and will absolutely be rereading it again in the future.