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Review: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Glass Casket
McCormick Templeman

Genre: YA Horror
Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publication: February 11, 2014
by Delacorte Press

Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal. 
Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again. Only this time, its appetite is insatiable. 


After reading the initial summary, I was pretty excited about this book. The tagline alone had already piqued my interest, but the things in that description had me geared up and ready to go. This is one of the few times that a book has really disappointed me.

Some of you may have heard this about the book, but I really didn't catch how this was a retelling of Snow White. I mean okay, so there's a pale, black-haired girl in a glass coffin, but that's literally in only one chapter. There is a character who is a glassblower in the book, so I thought that he would have featured more prominently in the story, but it wasn't the case. I even read up a little on the original Grimm brothers tale to compare and make sure I wasn't letting my judgment get clouded by images of the Disney film, but I couldn't find anything else that really proved a resemblance between the stories. (Maybe one of you guys could find some similarities while reading.)

This book got off to a slow start, but once I was in a few chapters, the plot really started to roll. The mystery is pretty intense, especially because of the buildup when it comes to victims. The first few deaths didn't seem to be such high priorities since the victims were strangers to the village, but once some locals started dying, everyone began freaking out and scrambling to figure out who or what was going around killing in the village. The truth behind the murders was pretty scary, and the scenes when the characters go into the forest had some great tension and suspense. Overall this aspect of the story was well done, as the pieces of the murder puzzle are scattered from the very beginning and came together pretty well at the end.

Throughout the book, we are constantly reminded of the village witch, Mama Lune, and her mysterious visitor, Mama Tetri. In this world, there are different types of witches called by colors (Greenwitches, Bluewitches, etc.) and each type works with different kinds of magic. This seemed like an interesting concept, and I really wished the author had given us more of that mythology, as well as involved the witches in the story some more. They make a few fleeting appearances in the middle of the book before making a big revelation, after which they leave. I had really hoped they would be there for the final confrontation and was disappointed to see them go so quickly.

The romances in this book left a lot to be desired. The potential love interests were Rowan's best friend Tom and his older brother Jude, but nothing in either's interactions with Rowan hinted that they could have feelings for her. It's briefly hinted that Rowan may have feelings for Tom and she feels hurt when he's obviously pining for another girl, but it comes up so suddenly that it feels phoned in. When it comes to Tom and the girl he's after, it does seem like there's some genuine feelings, but things happen afterwards that made me wonder whether it was still the feelings that kept them together or something else altogether. Another romance also pops up towards the end of the book, and though this one has some subtle buildup, it's too subtle and this just makes the romance seem like a spur-of-the-moment sort of deal.

There's no other way for me to put: the ending to this book just went completely off the rails. There are quite a few twists pertaining to the cause of the deaths in the village, and we're not given enough time to process any of these, which was really a problem because these reveals were genuinely shocking and required some going back on my part to figure them out. The final confrontation felt incredibly rushed, and the last chapter felt more like a hastily tacked-on epilogue. Now that I think about it, the whole last third of the book felt too rushed for my taste. There are many revelations about some characters, including one who had died prior to the events of the story, and there isn't really an opportunity to absorb all of this information. It was literally a case of hopping to the next plot point and the next with no resting in between. It also feels like there should be more to the last chapter than what we get; it has no real substance, so the addition of a few events that take place between it and the preceding chapter would've cleared this problem.

I feel so bad because it feels like this book had the potential to be so much more. The scenes in the forest and the mystery surrounding the deaths will probably be what I remember most from this book. The plot takes a few chapters to really pick up, the climax is rushed through at close to warp speed, and the last chapter feels like it may have been added at the last minute. Again, I looked forward to reading this book based on its premise, but all of these problems hurt my enjoyment of the book. Had a few things been cut out and some others expanded, this might've been a better read.

Rating: 1.5 stars



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