Desert Isle Keeper
The Glass Spare
The Glass Spare will probably go down as my most unexpected DIK of 2017. Picking it up, I was prepared for a light read that I could enjoy but forget about once I was finished. I didn’t plan to get emotionally invested in the characters, and I certainly didn’t expect to be so impatient for the next book. But here we are.
The prologue begins with the tale of Wilhelmina (Wil) Heidle’s birth. Wil is the fourth child of the King of Arrod, a much longed-for daughter by a queen who has given birth to three sons. Both mother and daughter seem to hover at death’s door in those first few days, leading to rumors that Wil is cursed. But over time this is forgotten, as the royals regain their health and Wil embarks on a childhood full of adventure as she seeks to keep up with her older brothers.
One frequent exploit for teenage Wil involves sneaking into the capital city to procure materials for her brother Gerdie’s experiments. While she’s run into trouble doing this before, her latest trip involves an unusually violent altercation with a merchant, and Wil barely escapes back to the palace with her life. Unfortunately, the merchant doesn’t forget about her, and the next time Wil goes into the city he’s lying in wait. This second incident ends unexpectedly when Wil’s touch turns the man to ruby, killing him. It’s the first time she’s ever exhibited this power, likely brought out by the stress of the moment, and it frightens both Wil and her brother.
Have you ever spent time contemplating fairy tales and thinking about how some “gifts” are more like curses? That thought had occurred to Wil in the past, and it’s one she can’t get out of her head after discovering this new power. She experiments with it, with Gerdie’s help, and finds that she can turn any living thing into a precious stone when her heartbeat speeds up. As it’s impossible to maintain a resting heart rate 24/7, this leaves Wil living in permanent fear of hurting her family members with something as simple as a hug or the brush of a hand.
Yet, rather than telling her loved ones about this new dangerous power, Wil does her best to hide it from the rest of her family. Her father’s obsession with empire building is plunging his nation into war and because Wil knows he would use her to finance his dreams if he was aware of her new ability, she chooses instead to live with this inner turmoil. I was glued to the book at this point, struck by a sense of impending doom as soon as Wil discovered her ‘talent’. When tragedy struck, it bothered me more than I’d expected—which was when I knew the next book in this series would be joining my eagerly awaiting list.
After the catastrophe (which I will not say more about, since you should discover it for yourself), Wil flees her family and the kingdom. All she has wanted since first transforming the merchant and coming into her power has been to find someone who can lift this curse from her. Off on her own, Wil is free to roam in search of the famous magician Pahn, who she believes may be able to help. In the course of this search, she encounters a young man named Loom, the banished Crown Prince of the Southern Isles. Loom seeks to overthrow his tyrannical father and bring prosperity to his kingdom, and after realizing what Wil can do, he wants her to join the cause.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on in this book. Its spot on my DIK shelf, though, is earned because the characters rather than all the action. Wil may be young, but she carries herself with maturity and approaches each new challenge thoughtfully, rather than with a surfeit of emotion. She cares so deeply about the people in her life, it’s impossible not to love them too. This is what sucked me in – the fact that I cared about the characters left me thinking about them after the book was finished.
I could certainly go on – discuss how well Wil’s mixed feelings about her parents come across, go into detail on how driven Loom is, and how his personality compliments Wil’s – but really, you should just read The Glass Spare and discover those things for yourself. Then you’ll be in the same boat with me, marking off the calendar until the next installment in the series comes out.