Author: McCormick Templeman
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: February 11, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
Life in Nag’s End is steady and predictable for Rowan Rose and her best friend Tom Parstle, until the day five riders thunder through town bound for Begger’s Drift, a place rumored forsaken by the Goddess. The arrival and subsequent sinister disappearance of the riders mark both the arrival of beautiful and mysterious Fiona Eira and the beginning of evil’s descent upon the superstitious village of Nag’s End. Rowan’s gentle scholarly father grows suddenly cold and distant, distracted by something he keeps closely guarded in his study, and forbids Rowan from speaking to Fiona, who she discovers is her estranged cousin. When Tom first sees Fiona, he falls suddenly and irrevocably in love with the dark-haired, scarlet-lipped beauty and begs Rowan to break her father’s commandment and convince Fiona to meet with him. As the youth of Nag’s End experience first love, unexpected pain, and dream of happy endings, a dark and violent force creeps into locked rooms, leaving nightmarish scenes and death in its wake. When tragedy strikes, madness and fear reach a fever pitch among the town’s inhabitants as they seek to unmask the evil in their midst. With THE GLASS CASKET, McCormick Templeman gives readers an ominous and horrific fairy tale filled with the darkest, bloodiest bits of their nightmares.
I have very mixed feelings about McCormick Templeman’s THE GLASS CASKET. On one hand, I found it impossible to put down. I felt compelled to unravel the mystery surrounding the disturbing deaths plaguing the people of Nag’s End; the horror and mystery aspects of the novel are remarkably well done. As Templeman demonstrated with her debut novel, THE LITTLE WOODS, and proved once again with this sophomore offering, her writing is sumptuous and richly detailed. I found it easy to imagine the setting and characters of THE GLASS CASKET as I read, an aspect that made the horror elements of the novel especially frightening.
My disappointment with the novel stems from the characters. I found it impossible to connect with any of them. I, quite honestly, loathed them all… On multiple occasions, I was so frustrated that I nearly gave up on the novel. It sometimes felt that Templeman was employing character idiocy and horrible communication to further suspend the mystery, which might be fine if this tactic didn’t make the characters so unbearable. In retrospect, I realize that the characters are very much products of their upbringing within the village. They’re quick to judge, with those judgments, more often than not, grounded in superstitions and first impressions rather than careful observations and rational thought. But Rowan, the girl who dreams of escaping Nag’s End and who claims to be above this superstitious upbringing, is the worst of the lot! I might have been able to handle the others, but Rowan’s ridiculous reactions and shortsighted judgments proved too much for my patience.
Though I was extremely put off by the characters within THE GLASS CASKET, there were many elements that I appreciated, so I’m happy I read this one. I’ll definitely read Templeman’s next book, but with my fingers-crossed for characters that live nowhere near Nag’s End.
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