Review: Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Publisher: Tor
Where did you get the book: Review copy from Publisher
Release date: Out now

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

When Tor sent me Shades of Honey and Milk back in 2010 for review, I couldn’t help but rave about this author and her debut. Glamour in Glass returns to the world of glamour and our heroine, Jane, who is now married to Vincent. Jane is a glamourist which is a form of illusion that comes from the Ether. With Glamour, it can be used to create objects, artwork, and it can even be used upon people. Jane is very accomplished, but now she’s learning more about glamour after marrying Vincent, whom she met and fell in love with in the first book.

Jane and Vincent have not been married for very long, and Jane believes they’re going on a Honeymoon to Belgium. But things are not what they seem when Vincent becomes very distant and secretive with Jane. And things become very dicey when Napoleon escapes, and Jane and Vincent are stuck in a foreign and now hostile country where not only are their lives in danger, but so is their marriage.

I enjoyed Glamour in Glass, but I had some issues with the book that brought down the grade for me. Firstly, I love it when a series centers around a married couple and explores their journey and relationship. It’s a favourite setting of mine, so I was incredibly happy to see that this is a series that follows Jane and Vincent. So whilst I was happy to see Jane and Vincent again, I had problems with the pace of the plot and the emotions from the characters. I enjoyed seeing another facade of Vincent that hadn’t been shown before when he meets his mentor and friend in Belgium, another incredibly talented glamourist. We learn more about Vincent’s past with his family, and how his Father hated him for being accomplished in what he thought was a ‘woman’s art’ which explains why Vincent is incredibly tight lipped about his past and emotions.

Jane…I have to admit, I wasn’t that enamoured of her in this book. Sometimes I felt that her responses to Vincent came off a tad immature, and the tension between them felt too forced. I can’t say what the big reveal is as it’s a major spoiler, but when it’s revealed why Vincent is so secretive, I found it to be a letdown. It felt like too much of a ploy for Jane and Vincent to be apart. Another issue I have is once again, the Ether is not explained in much detail. It’s just…there, and in that aspect there was the same problem that I had in the first place.

The pace of the story is quite slow, then suddenly towards the end it picks up speed and I admit, I didn’t like the ending at all.

Big spoiler revealed:

[spoiler]Jane finds out she is pregnant midway through the book, and because using Glamour can harm the baby, Jane can’t practise glamour which upsets her greatly. I empathized with Jane when she found out she was pregnant so quickly, yet it shouldn’t have come as a surprise because hello, no contraception in those days. But what really bothered me was the plot device towards the end where Jane loses the baby, either through a miscarriage or it might have been through using the Glamour to save Vincent.[/spoiler]

I thought it was a rush job done in the last chapter, that the emotion of what Jane and Vincent lost felt incredibly superficial. That Jane felt relief that she could do glamour again just came off as odd. It seemed she got over it so quickly, and I couldn’t understand why bring this into the plot into the first place if it’s not going to be something that is dealt with in a lot of emotion. I was also hoping to see more of Melody, Jane’s sister after the events of the last book, we saw one glance of her in the beginning and that was it.

All in all, I enjoyed reading Glamour in Glass but it had nowhere near the impact the first book had. The pacing was off, and the emotions were lacking towards the end which disappointed me.

I give Glamour in Glass a C.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal”

  1. I have never come across this author or series before, and even though it does sound intriguing, your dislikes really put me off. This will not end up on my wishlist. If you do read the next one, I hope you will enjoy it a lot more.

  2. @aurian: The first book was wonderful, and I would definitely recommend that. This one, though, just didn’t do it for me compared to Shades of Milk and Honey.

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