In Caverna, lies are an art - and everyone's an artist . . . In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear - at a price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...
A Face Like Glass
Ever read one of those books, that from the first sentence you know you'll be gripped, entranced, in love with the book, the story, the characters? Well this is one of those books!
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge and I loved it. It was a relief and a refreshing breath to read a book that has a proper story, has a huge amount of little stories, a great setting, an amazing set of characters, Hardinge gives it all. About half way through this book I was thinking about how to review it and I've decided one of the best ways to tell you how good it is, is to tell you what books it's similar to. If you loved the Inkheart trilogy, this book is for you, Harry Potter, this book is for you, His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass etc), this book is for you, The Chronicles of Narnia, again this book is for you. A Face Like Glass has that quality of writing that should make it a childrens, young adult, adult classic. It's set in a beautiful dangerous, strange and magical. A magic, multi-layered, elegant rich novel that anyone would enjoy slowly savouring and exploring.
The Bookbag summed it up perfectly 'This is the kind of book which makes you slow down as you reach the final pages because you don't want it to end'.
Hardinge's characters are complex and her setting even more so. Caverna is a underground city full of magic craftsmen, who make wine that makes you forget, cheeses that show you the future, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even while they slit your throat. Caverna's politics with these masterful craftsmen is full of intrigue, assassinations, back stabbing and uneasy alliances, and into this unruly unpredictable mix falls a orphaned girl, Neverfell who wears her emotions on her face. This is a fearful sight for the people of Caverna who are born with blank faces and who have to learn expressions, meaning they can lie smoothly to your face while they wear a understanding truthful Face. In a place where it is impossible to tell who is lying Neverfell provides an innocent naive pawn that can be shuffled back and forth in chess moves of a great complex scale.
It draws you in. You twist your mind into new shapes. You start to understand Caverna…and you fall in love with her. Imagine the most beautiful woman in the world, but with tunnels as her long, tangled, snake-like hair. Her skin is dappled in trap-lantern gold and velvety black, like a tropical frog. Her eyes are cavern lagoons, bottomless and full of hunger. When she smiles, she has diamonds and sapphires for teeth, thousands of them, needle-thin.’
‘But that sounds like a monster!’
‘She is. Caverna is terrifying. This is love, not liking. You fear her, but she is all you can think about.’”
I read a few reviews on A Face Like Glass and one reviewer summed it up amazingly well:
The whole book is a masterpiece, in my opinion, but what really blew my mind was the epilogue (and not just because it felt right and necessary). In a stroke of pure genius, Frances Hardinge suddenly switches the perspective to that of an outsider for the final pages. Reading from his point of view, it suddenly came crashing down on me just how far down this particular rabbit hole I had really gone. I had fallen for Caverna and in doing so, I had gone a bit mad. (http://www.thereadventurer.com/1/post/2012/07/ya-review-a-face-like-glass-by-frances-hardinge.html)
It is a book ridiculously hard to review due it's multi-layered elegant enthralling story which weaves such a beautiful entrancing magical story that I won't forget it in a long time, nor would I want to. For me it would be hard to peel each layer apart individually to dissect it for you as I think it would ruin the amazing flow that I associate with this novel as well as ruining the story for you guys, if you want a more in-depth review read the review I got that sum up, but if you're happy to go on my word, do, and BUY IT!
It's definitely one of those books that I'll keep
a) for a rainy day
b) for my mum and my family and anyone I can persuade to read it
c) for my future children
d) for a rainy rainy day
e) for a normal day
f) I hope you get the picture, it's a book I think I'll read again and again and hopefully again.
In Caverna, lies are an art - and everyone's an artist . . .
In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear - at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from Macmillan to read and review. I loved reading A Face Like Glass! I hadn't read any books by Frances Hardinge before but after reading this book I would definitely pick up another of her books if I saw it in my local book store! I found A Face Like Glass to be a bit of a cross between the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder and the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore, (all of which I enjoyed, but not as much as A Face Like Glass!). There were many concepts within this book that I had never read about or even heard of before, such as the Cartographers, Facesmiths, Master craftsmen and Putty Girls. In particular, I was fascinated with the Facesmiths, Putty Girls and the concept of needing "Faces" to begin with! The higher you came in the class system the more entitled you were a wider range of Faces, a higher quality of Faces and the highly sought after services of a Facesmith. The right Face personally adjusted to your specifications by a highly talented Facesmith could make or break your reputation in The Court. Faces are status symbols in Caverna, you must have a Face perfect for each situation presented to you. There were also many concepts within A Face Like Glass that I have read about before and enjoyed which probably drew me to this book in the first place, such as underground living, assassins and the class system. I really enjoyed reading about the unique class system in A Face Like Glass. Your social status depended on what Faces you possess, but the Faces you possess depend on your social status. An ever decreasing, vicious circle for the Drudges, whilst those in The Court and those that are the family of Master craftsmen have seemingly endless amounts of opportunities to better themselves. My favourite characters were Erstwhile, Neverfell and Cheesemaster Grandible. Despite being a Drudge Erstwhile strives to better himself and improve the lives of those around him in the Doldrums, whilst also trying to help Neverfell out, any way he can, which is why he is one of my favourite characters. Neverfell is also one of my favourite characters because of her openness and naivety, even when someone is clearly trying to use her or lie to her, she sees the best in them. Out of all three, Cheesemaster Grandible is my favourite though because despite the consequences if he is caught he desperately tries to protect Neverfell the outsider. I love the cover of my ARC copy of A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge! Although the actual mass market cover is quite pretty and magical, I prefer my ARC version because of the simplistic yet sophisticated design.