15 January 2011

The Glass Maker’s Daughter by V. Briceland

Magic lies at the heart of Cassaforte, medieval city of bewitchments and intrigue. Cassaforte is home to sixteen-year-old Risa Divetri, whose fate is about to be decided by the gods.

Risa has led the sheltered life of a nobleman's daughter, but soon she plans to leave home to study the family craft-creating enchanted glass objects. When the gods are consulted to determine which school she will attend, the impossible happens: Risa remains unchosen. The rejection sends Risa into a spiral of shame, anger, and confusion. If she's not meant to be a glass maker, what will she do?

But when Cassaforte's age-old magic begins to unravel and dark forces threaten the kingdom, Risa's fiery spirit and untapped powers take her on a perilous journey—one that will lead her to her true destiny.

 If you like Tamora Pierce, you’ll love V. Briceland.  I was completely hooked by this book—by the writing, the characters, the setting, the plot, the romance.  I believe it rare to find stories where the world is completely thought-out and isn’t confined to what the character witnesses every day.  While perhaps a tad bit difficult to understand at first, the remarkable detail really brings the story to life and keeps you riveted as the story progresses.

The writing—WOW!  (with an exclamation point)  Very simple, yet elegant.  This is definitely a book I’ll turn to when I need to see how writing should really be done.  It’s the kind of writing that fades into the background, but not in the nothing-significant kind of way.  As in, it flows so smoothly that you’re left to enjoy the story and you aren’t hindered by the writing.  Even fantastic, out-of-this-world writing can distract me from the story.

I loved the characters.  These are the types of characters that will stay with you for years.  All of them were unique and I didn’t get them confused with one another.  Even if you didn’t have a written history of the characters, you felt as if you knew them and could easily interact with them.  Milo was definitely my favorite character but Risa follows right behind and Camilla, too.  Camilla was awesome.  So was Ricard—he was hilarious!  

The atmosphere was almost alive.  You could tell that it was loosely based on Italy, but the world is its own.  While the terms mock Italy (like, cazarra, tavernas) it’s magical in its own right.  For example, there are many cazas and each represents a different craft.  Like Caza Divetri (Risa’s own house), they are famous for their glass making.  (Hence the title, The Glass Maker’s Daughter.)  Then there are the gods Muro and Lena and the social structure of the Seven and Thirty.  The detail is fascinating!

The plot was FANTASTIC!  I thought it was going to be a cliché ending, but GOSH!  I loved the twist at the end!  The whole thing builds up and up and up and then plummets, then goes up again…it was incredible.  Risa was the perfect character to tell this story and was smart, too, but not too smart.  She was believable—she had her selfish moments, her anxieties, her tantrums, her shining times.  All wrapped up in this ugly conspiracy that she’d gotten thrown into head first.

I usually don’t go for the subtle romances, but this was an exception.  It was so sweet in how subtle yet completely obvious it was and it created an underlining tension between the characters and me, as the reader.  It’s the kind that had me going, “Oh, c’mon, DO something!”  But yet I enjoyed the bantering and the build up of trust between them.  It really blended in well with the story but didn’t overshadow any important plot points.

It was just a little difficult to follow at first.  The first fifty pages or so, I lost track of how things worked and was confused with all the names mentioned, but as I continued, it made sense and gave it a more enriching quality.

If you like Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder, or Cinda Williams Chima, definitely track this book down.  It’s not well known and you may have to buy it from your independent bookstore or online.  (I ended up buying it at Half-Price Books, which is a second-hand bookstore.)  You can buy it from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or BookDepository.
Book Info:
  • pages – trade paperback, 325
  • published – April 2009
  • publisher – Flux
  • genre – fantasy
  • received via – Half-Price Books
  • rating - 5/5
  • series – Cassaforte Chronicles
    • The Glass Maker’s Daughter
    • The Buccaneer’s Apprentice | Review
    • The Nascenza Conspiracy | Review