Seven years ago, Cheesemaster Grandible found Neverfell abandoned, hiding away in his cheese tunnels. Now, he keeps her hidden away from the rest of Caverna, fearful of what may come to pass should the Court and their enemies find the truth behind Neverfell’s presence in the underground city.
His worst nightmares come to pass when the twelve-year-old’s thirst for the outside world brings her to a dangerous path.
Frances Hardinge’s writing feels like a gift – you’re almost hesitant to unwrap it, but once you get a peek, you’re in a mad rush to see it all. At least, that’s how I felt.
She writes in the most spellbinding manner! Just the right bit of focus on worldbuilding, just the right bit of focus on action.
Her writing style is straightforward and vivid. You are immediately transported to the scene that you’re reading.
For the first few chapters, I was a bit baffled trying to grasp the various elements of this world she has created. But once I understood what all of the terms meant, the reading was smooth sailing from there on.
Almost 500 pages long, the story is certainly eventful. There are numerous conflicts introduced which make you anxious for Neverfell’s well-being, and her character goes through quite the life-altering journey.
This being a middle-grade/ YA fantasy didn’t deter me from thoroughly enjoying it. There’s so much hope and energy at the heart of it that you can’t help but be swept up in the tides of this mesmerizing tale.
I loved Neverfell’s character. She is curious, brave, and loyal. She is almost naïve to the point of being taken advantage of. But that is also perhaps her strongest trait – being an empath and being a fighter.
There are many characters in the novel, many of whom will leave an impression on you. The Kleptomancer and Erstwhile were a couple of my other favourite characters.
Some of you may wonder what’s the point of a world divided by the people’s ability to express themselves through facial expressions. I found greater meaning in it. The author uses hierarchies to mirror our world today.
She also brings in the notion of how the more affluent families have greater freedom of speech than those who are in the lower echelons of society. This couldn’t be more true for us too! Human rights aren’t accorded the same importance in implementation as they are on paper, isn’t it?
The entirety of this novel is not just about social causes, appreciating our surroundings, and setting wrongs right. It has a wonderfully magical ambience.
With Caverna being an underground world where:
- Facesmiths train people to don certain expressions
- Wines alter memory
- Perfumes make people susceptible to influence
- Spices sharpen senses
- And cheeses bring visions
The worldbuilding is intricate and brimming with potential. And Hardinge has executed all of this with such aplomb.
There were some chapters towards the end where I felt that 1-2 scenes dragged for a bit longer than necessary. But I was so excited to get to the end of Neverfell’s adventure that it didn’t bother me too much.
The last section of the book where a plan comes into play is brilliantly crafted!
To end this long book review, I have one important question – WHEN IS A FACE LIKE GLASS BEING MADE INTO A DISNEY MOVIE?
A Face Like Glass is a must-read if you enjoy layered fantasy novels with a sprightly main character.