Underground, Unmasked: Frances Hardinge’s A FACE LIKE GLASS

Lynn: Frances Hardinge is a spinner of words and worlds who makes magic with language. I am always so blown away by her writing that my copies of her books grow soggy with highlighted phrases.

A Face Like Glass (2017) is Hardinge’s latest book to arrive in the U.S., although it was first A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardingepublished in England in 2012. Everything about it is superbly crafted, from the gorgeous language to the richly developed characters to the vivid setting. Caverna, home to the most skilled craftsmen in the world, is an underground city, a place riddled with tunnels and passageways, splendid spaces and grimy inner workings. In order to protect the residents’ secret skills, no one is allowed to leave. Thus, the cheeses, wines, and perfumes are worth enormous sums. The ruling classes of Caverna live lives that span many centuries—IF they can survive constant double dealing, assassination plots, and convoluted power struggles.

It is a world of dangerous exploding cheeses, perfumes that compel loyalty, and wines that erase memory. It is also stagnating and slowly dying. Then a renowned cheese-maker discovers a small child in his tunnels. Neverfell has no memory of where she came from and a unique disability. The residents of Caverna have to be taught facial expressions for a price, yet this red-headed “tangle of fidget and frisk” has a face SO disturbing she must wear a mask. And when her mask comes off, Neverfell triggers events that will change Caverna forever.

Brilliant, funny, and deeply thoughtful, A Face Like Glass is a fantasy tour de force!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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