Review: ‘Glass Houses’ by Rachel Caine
Genre: YA/Supernatural fiction (or something to that effect…)
Published: by Allison & Busby in May 2008
What the blurb said:
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls just never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life but they come out fighting when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood….
What I would say:
I always think that, unfairly, there is a certain degree of snobbery when it comes to the reading of YA fiction and, as an extension of that and because of the undeniable success of the delicious Edward Cullen et al, supernatural/paranormal YA fiction in particular. So, before anyone skulks off mumbling about “reading real books..”, let’s share the love for fun, fast-paced stories that are a delightful way to spend a day or two when the darkness is creeping in, shall we? 🙂 Ok!
I first picked this up for a number of reasons. Firstly, my sister bought this for me and she has been an unstoppable nag force ever since. To clarify, my younger sibling is not a big reader – in fact, until recently, if wasn’t Jacqueline Wilson, she didn’t want to know. Then Edward Cullen happened and she will read occasionally if there are more delicious vampires or similar for her to swoon over – any book which fulfils this is the “best book ever” – ah, the exuberance of youth…Secondly, I needed something lightish that I could romp through on a train journey to stop me getting distracted by and/or being depressed about the other miscreants in my carriage!
This filled its brief: the book reminded me very much of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which I loved as a teen. The characters were sharp and witty and the way they interacted was how I wished I’d been able to interact at that age, i.e. full of sarcasm and way-too-quick comebacks! Claire Danvers is obviously the main focus and her perspective as a new resident of Morganville (much like the reader in fact) provides just the right amount of detail.
I think one of the things that made this story work so well was that it never dawdled – at the time I thought Claire’s almost instaneous acceptance of the existence of vampires and all sorts of other things-that-go-bump-in-the-night was unrealistic (in context) BUT it actually meant that there was no time wasted in pointless denials: “But vampires don’t exist” “Yes, they do…” “Oh yes, actually they do here…”. The action is sustained right up until the last page and I was finished before I knew it! Also good for recalling a bit of the teen angst that we all miss a little bit if we’re absolutely honest (and quoting your age as, “I’m nearly seventeen…” with a tone of desperation”) – what’s life without melodrama every now and then?!
Overall: There are some unique elements that make this different from “just another vampire novel” (vampire bureaucracy, for example..) and the ‘Glass house’ and its residents are perfectly charming – definitely recommended to those looking for something just a teensy bit creepy on the run up to Hallowe’en!