Sunday, January 04, 2009
Glass Houses, Rachel Caine
Welcome to Morganville. Just don`t stay out after dark...
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school`s social scene: somewhere 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…
Morganville sounds like the back of beyond – and I bet you, you’ll read this and recognise bits of some crummy town close to where you live. Which makes this novel even more creepy!
Claire Danvers, the main character in Glass Houses, is a refreshing breeze of clumsy geekness. She’s just a normal girl, highly intelligent, having finished high school early, which is why at the age of almost seventeen she’s started college. Her parents, thinking that they were doing a good thing, decided to to send her to Morganville to go to college as it was the closest one – they weren’t prepared to send her off to some of the more illustrious schools, further away. For her own good of course. Because she is too young to make it on her own.
She runs foul of Monica and the Monickettes in her dorm and at the college. Beaten, thrown down some stairs and with very little clothes to her name, she sets off to sort things out. She decides that the best way to survive is to find off campus accommodation. She stumbles across Glass House which is beautifully described as a cross between a mansion from Gone with the Wind and The Munsters.
The residents of Glass House – Eve, Goth chick and sweetie at heart, Shane, layabout, hottie who is fiercely loyal to his best mate, Michael, owner of Glass House, also a hottie and a bit weird in that he sleeps all day and no one is quite sure what he does... - welcome Claire into their tightknit little clan. Eve does the big reveal: vampires are real. They run Morganville – no one is safe after dark. The humans who live in Morganville wear bracelets that show their allegience to a protector...
I genuinely enjoyed reading Glass Houses. I was annoyed when I had to close the book and realised that I should have bought the second one too...you know, just to know what happens next! The characters are fresh and fun, Claire is stubborn – I can picture her perfectly, one of those quiet unassuming people who you never expect to have such a stubborn streak. Through her we discover how odd Morganville really is and the descriptions, as I mentioned earlier, really do hit you in an uncomfortable place because you know there are places like this in real life – where the street lights are a bit too far apart, where the shops are just a a bit too run down, where people seem more introverted and suspicious of strangers than is healthy. I loved how Ms. Caine used the setting, very Stephen King-like, to create such a strong sense of unease.
This is a cracking good read aimed at the urban fantasy young adult market. I am sure, however, that everyone who’s read Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series would enjoy reading this. It keeps the vampire genre fresh and fun because the lore is being re-invented and re-worked. Although there are elements of romance (how can there not be with two such lovely sounding hotties) it does not turn into anything remotely obsessive or weird, which seems to be the way a lot of other YA novels are going. It is kept light and sexy, with no scenes I would be uncomfortable to read out loud to a class of pupils and parents.
Highly recommended, especially if you buy the UK covers as they glow in the dark! Published in the UK by Allison and Busby.