The Glass Spare (2017) – Lauren DeStefano

Title: The Glass Spare
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Date published: 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Let’s just begin by stating that DeStefano stands out enormously among Young Adult authors. Her The Chemical Garden trilogy was/is one of the most unique stories I have read in a while, and because I have been reading a lot of YA (Young Adult) literature lately for some reason I have no other choice but to compare her with countless others. I guess in a way I have always shied away from the most anticipated and most popular books, TV shows, movies and music because hype bothers me. I always feel afraid that I will be disappointed. I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want to have to give something less than 4 stars because I will feel terrible. Luckily, once again, I am pleased to announce that The Glass Spare gets a solid 5 stars from me – it is really that good.

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The story takes place in the fictional kingdom of Arrod, which is controlled by opposing families in the north and south. Our heroine, Wil (Wilhemina) is the daughter of the king of the North. She has three brothers, Owen who is the heir to the kingdom and the favorite, Baren the evil  brother who seems to have little love for his siblings, and Gerdie, the family genius who spends his days in a wheelchair due to a childhood illness. Wil and Gerdie are the closest, and Owen is loved by everyone, whilst Baren unfortunately remains on the outskirts due in part to his own bad temper. Other than Owen who will inherit the kingdom the rest of the siblings are known as ‘the Spares’, which is pretty self-explanatory. They all live a life of luxury, whilst having to remain hidden and protected from the dangers that lurk beyond the palace walls.

Wil is the adventurous type and is often sent into the kingdom’s Port Capital to collect ingredients for Gerdie’s numerous experiments, as well as going on spy missions for her father – all in disguise of course.

On one such excursion to collect a rare ingredient for Gerdie a fatal accident occurs during which Wil discovers she has the ability/power (or curse as Wil views it) to touch anything living and turn it into precious stone. With clear distinctions made with the story of King Midas and his Golden touch, Wil unlike Midas is immediately devastated by this discovery. Keeping this a secret proves impossible as eventually both Gerdie and Owen are made aware of her ‘condition’, and in revealing her ‘curse’ her life as she once knew it ends abruptly in tragedy.

Her father’s discovery of all of this ends in him banishing her from the kingdom and pronouncing her dead. With nothing else to do but run Wil goes in search of a mysterious man named Pahn, who can supposedly help rid her of the ‘curse’ she so desperately wants to remove.

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Along her adventures Wil meets up with the handsome tattooed Loom, the swashbuckling Zay and her son Ada, Espel, Loom’s sister and a self-confessed monster (as she claims to have killed her mother when she was born) and Masalee, an orphan who fought to the death as a child to  claim her place as Espel’s second in command. Oh, did I mention that Loom and Espel are not meant to even be in the same room as Wil as they are the royal heirs of the opposing kingdom of Arrod in the south?

A lot of the novel takes place on the ocean, Wil’s favourite place to be, and inside an abandoned castle that belongs to Loom’s family. The characters are extraordinary and have a liveliness about them that makes them seem so incredibly real. As this is for a younger reader the story line does appear to move at a faster pace than I would like however the author does not allow holes in the story, and everything seems perfectly set up for the sequel, The Cursed Sea.

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