Falcon in the Glass takes place in fifteenth century Murano, a small island off the coast of Venice. Renzo, short for Lorenzo, is the man of the house, ever since his father died in disgrace after Renzo’s uncle dared leave Venice, taking the secrets of glassblowing with him. See, glassblowing was pretty intense back in the day, and they were kind of like the mob about letting people leave, because they didn’t want anyone outside Murano how to do what they did. To be fair, it would seriously cut into their profit margins.
Reading about glassblowing is one of my weird obsessions. There’s so much beauty in glassblowing, and I enjoy fiction that has a focus on something special like that. My favorite parts of Falcon in the Glass were the quiet scenes where Renzo’s working on his glassblowing. It’s so incomprehensible and magical to me how all of that works. The fact that I’ve seen people glassblowing on Murano only made it better.
The novel has a slight fantasy component in the form of a kenning between some gypsy children of indefinite origin and birds. As a concept, it’s pretty cool, and I think younger readers will be charmed by it. I also appreciated the ending for being a bit darker than usual in middle grade. Though it’s not super depressing or anything it’s not the happy resolution of all troubles that usually results in books for young readers.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Sadly, though, I just didn’t feel any connection to the characters whatsoever, and the plot was a bit too slow for me. I particularly didn’t care for the halfhearted attempt to create a romance between the oldest bird girl and Renzo when it really wasn’t necessary.
The Final Verdict:
For older readers, I’d be more inclined to recommend The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding, which is a more strongly fantasy novel of glassblowing. Younger readers, however, might do well with Falcon in the Glass.