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Lin is dragged from England to backwater Germany by her father, Dr Oliver Fox, obsessed with the discovery of the famed Allerheiligen glass, a set of stained glass windows missing for hundreds of years, perhaps no longer even in existence.
Lin thinks her biggest problems are completing her final exams in a foreign country and serving as interpreter for her father as he chases the fabulous glass, but these are the least of her worries. For the glass is rumoured to be haunted by the demon Bonschariant, and murder and woe have followed in its wake ever since its creation. No sooner has the family – Lin, her elder sister Polly, younger brother Ru, and her parents – arrived in Germany than Lin has stumbled over a corpse.
It is the first of many, as her father’s contact in Germany, a man who insisted her knew where to find the Allerheiligen glass, is dead – supposedly drowned in his bath. But his corpse, like the corpse in the apple orchard, was surrounded by fragments of shattered glass. Is there some connection between these deaths, and other events heralded by broken glass, and the Glass Demon? Is Bonschariant intent on murdering everyone who crosses paths with his glass? Or is it just the locals, intent on deterring outsiders from finding the famed stained windows? From the very start, Lin is warned by Michel, a boy who lives on a nearby farm, that her father will never find the glass without help.
The story is told from Lin’s point of view, and the author does an excellent job of capturing the essence of a wilful teenager. That said, that very fact drove me nuts sometimes, as the childish foolishness and wilful blindness of said teenager left me furious and wanting to smack her across the head. Teenagers may more readily relate to Lin than older adults.
The story is solid, with her enough mystery, conflict and intrigue to draw the reader onwards. While I wouldn’t say I was desperate to finish the story, I certainly felt compelled to read on. The opening was a little slow, and I was perhaps a quarter of the way through before I felt the story had really captured me.
I was confused for much of the book about the nature of the relationship with Tuesday. Initially I thought she was a second wife, and Lin and Polly’s stepmother, which explained why a couple with two teenage daughters on the brink of their twenties had an eighteen month old son, as well as Tuesday’s disinterest in the girls, and Lin’s attitude to her. When I realised she was their real mother, that left too many unanswered questions. Why did they have such a large gap between their elder and younger children? Especially since Tuesday was so disinterested in actually being a mother? The lack of explanation is unimportant to the overall story, but it bothered me.
Well handled was the relationship between Lin and Michel. While ordinarily a relationship between them might seem inevitable, with him the obvious love interest, I found the author did an excellent job of convincing me that there was no way Lin would ever entertain such a notion, so that when a relationship did actually start to blossom, I found myself a bit surprised.
Having read this for Club Fantasci, I expected it to be speculative fiction, but I’d classify it as more crime/thriller/suspense in the vein of The Da Vinci Code. That said, if you don’t mind the genre, it’s well worth the read.
More information about Ciara Ballintyne can be found on www.ciaraballintyne.com