The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
I usually don’t buy my fiction at Ocean State Job Lot, but I had the strangest feeling that there was a book there for me, so I paused to look at the titles. The Girl With Glass Feet had a pretty cover and the description sounded interesting. For only $3.99, there was no reason not to try it.
The Girl With Glass Feet is a strange book. I’m not sure what grade to give it. On one hand, it has a beautiful, dark, fairy-tale atmosphere. The setting is St. Hauda’s Land, a boggy archipelago rife with peculiar animals, including a species of winged cattle and an animal whose gaze turns other animals completely white. Ida, one of the main characters, has returned there in search of Henry Fuwa, the one person who might be able to explain why her feet are turning to glass.
While searching for Henry, Ida unexpectedly meets Midas, who is roaming around in the woods with his digital camera, looking for well-lit scenes to photograph. She asks him, “Are you sure you’re okay? Have you lost something?” Midas responds, “Light.” That answer is one of the things that makes this book interesting. It’s full of symbolism and metaphor. When Midas says he has lost his light, we’re meant to understand that he’s not just talking about the sunlight he needs for his pictures.
On the other hand, the book has many problems. Some scenes are awkward (for example, when Ida is a teenager she loses her dog, and the dialogue that occurs when Ida explains it to her parents is completely unbelievable). None of the weird things occurring in St. Hauda’s Land is ever explained (if turning to glass is as common a condition as is implied, how come nobody has every heard of the illness?). The romance between Ida and Midas is clunky. Midas is not particularly likable. The story doesn’t end happily (I don’t insist that a story end happily, but I do expect some small good to come out of the bad, or at least a small ray of hope).
So I go back and forth between B+ and A-. A B+ book is going to the Chopping Block and an A- book is going to stay here with me. Which will it be? For now, I’m going with A- (though I reserve the right to downgrade it). The reason for the A- is that I finished reading the book a few days ago and the story is still with me.
All in all The Girl with Glass Feet is an impressive first book from a young author. I will definitely be interested to read his second.
Final grade: A-