The Glass Spare tells the fascinating story of a young princess named Wil, the fourth child and only daughter of a powerful and ruthless king, who wants nothing more than to travel the world. When she is attacked she discovers she has the power to turn living things into crystals and gemstones, and she goes off on a journey to cure her curse, only to fall in with the banished prince of a rival kingdom who is determined to save his kingdom from ruin.
Wil was a really great character to follow around because she had an actual thought process. She thought about her situations and came up with answers to her obstacles. Although she was fierce and action-oriented, she had a clear and level head and made decisions based on observations and facts rather than simply reacting without thinking. I loved the way she responded to things, like leaping to rescue a damsel in distress, and the care and love she showed to her brothers and mother. Wil, despite being a good person who loves fiercely and genuinely cares for others, thinks she's a monster because of her curse... and then she actually meets one. I look forward to more of the monstrosity vs humanity debate being explored further in the sequel.
While I didn't feel distant from Wil and felt the suitable horror when the incident that banished her happened, I did feel a little distance with the supposed romance. I kind of felt like Wil wasn't really into it, and I'll go into that in just a moment. What I do want to mention is the third person narration, which is not my favourite type of narration, did lend itself to the occasional head hopping, and that's why it's not my favourite type of narration. Sometimes we were supposed to be seeing things from Wil's point of view yet we were told what Loom was thinking. That's just about my only negative criticism, though.
I want to address the 'romance'. Some have accused this book of being more romance than fantasy and some have accused Wil and Loom of 'insta-love'. I was 60% through when I made a status saying there was absolutely no romance so far. It's pretty much developed from about 70% onwards, so there is NO insta-love. Wil absolutely does NOT love the male character, Loom. It's explained that she is drawn to him, but she never even thinks she's in love, in fact she thinks the exact opposite, that she's NOT in love because she doesn't know what love feels like. SO THERE IS NO INSTA-LOVE. It's also NOT more romance than fantasy because although it was clear Wil and Loom would end up with some kind of feelings for each other (because that is how YA books work, nothing against the author, I think she did a really good job of it all), the book was well past the halfway mark before you even get the hint that Wil might be interested in Loom. Even then, right near the end it's explained why Wil is drawn to Loom and she acknowledges that she's not in love. You can't even tell she's developing an attraction until waaaaay in because she hates him at first: he's keeping her captive and she's literally escaping from him. It certainly isn't instant.
The worldbuilding has this fascinating mix of old-school fantasy and almost a steampunk-meets-digital advanced technology. There's dirigibles and solar power and data googles and it's a lovely mess of technologies: Wil's father the king is old school and archaic and won't build proper roads for electric carriages; the closed off Southern kingdom has more advanced technology yet that king's favourite method of execution is the guillotine. I don't think I've ever read a book with this kind of mix of technologies, magic and alchemy and digital and solar power and wind power and just wow, it was so interesting. I'd love to be able to go into this world and see the different technology the different islands have developed, and that obviously it's all come together because of trade and advancement.
I've had a really bad reading year due to personal issues and although this book was over 400 pages, when I did pick it up my reading seemed to go really quickly and I'd pass 5% of my ebook without even noticing. The pace wasn't neck-snappingly fast but it was brisk enough to keep me interested for longer periods of time including staying up til midnight to finish. It only took me a couple of weeks to read this and in comparison I've been reading another book for well over a year now. I loved it and I'm keen to receive the sequel. Thank you Lauren for writing a story about a magical princess.
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.