Book Review: Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann

7740081Title: Behind Green Glass
Author: Amanda Von Hoffmann
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
Rating: 4 stars

“Perched in the maple outdoors she saw a figure, human in shape, animal-like in posture. A smooth expanse of bare muscled chest, light tangled hair, glowing irises. The glass slipped from her fingers…”

Isolde is a shy and artistic sixteen-year-old who moves into a house rumored to be haunted. When she discovers a shard of green glass, a new world opens for her. Through the glass she sees Lyric, who mistakenly believes that he is a ghost, and other ethereally beautiful creatures. As their mystery unfolds, Isolde learns that they are not ghosts, but The Forgotten Ones, fairies cast out of their realm, labeled imperfect for their physical and mental differences. Isolde’s friendship with Lyric and The Forgotten Ones teaches her that sometimes our “imperfections” can also be our greatest strengths.

First of all, I owe you all – and especially the kind and friendly author of this book, Amanda Von Hoffmann – an apology for the tardiness of this review. I have to admit that, for a reason I couldn’t quite grasp, this was one of the most difficult reviews I had to write up to date. I started writing about a dozen times now, then got unhappy about what I wrote, went back and erased it all, and still wasn’t happy. Draft review after draft review was trashed and deleted, and now I give up. I promised the author to post this review probably a month ago, and she has been nothing but kind and patient, which makes me even more ashamed about posting so late. So now I’m done, fed up, angry with myself, and tired of being unable to write this review properly. This time, I’ll just write it down, everything the novel makes me think and feel, and if it makes no sense or my writing style is less than desirable, then I’m deeply sorry but so be it. Anyway, on to the review.

Behind Green Glass focuses on Isolde, a young adult who recently moved to the country with her mother. Isolde is a shy, artistic and kind person but she often struggles with who she is, and wishes she could be more outgoing, like her best friend. Soon after moving to the old countryhouse, Isolde starts feeling like she is being watched by someone or something, and strange occurances happen in her room. Convinced she is being haunted by the ghost of a girl who passed away in that very room – Meredith, Isolde is determined to help the ghost move on to the afterlife. It’s only when she discovers a shards of green glass in her drawer, and sees the ghost of a young boy through this glass, that Isolde realises it isn’t Meredith who haunts her. It’s Lyric. He was in love with Meredith and stayed in her room even after she died, unable to let go of the girl he loved. It doesn’t take long before Isolde figures out that Lyric, and his friends, aren’t really ghosts. They’re faeries. And not just faeries: they are the Forgotten Ones, imperfect faeries cast out of the faerie world.

I can’t begin to explain to you how much I liked Isolde. Right when I was so fed up with always having to read books about feisty, fiery and stubborn heroines who take feminism one step too far, in walks Isolde. Such a refreshing change from the usual: so innocent and kind, and yet so strong and determined. It’s been a while since a character has managed to surprise me in such a nice way like Isolde did. For one, she was an actual human being, with all sorts of contradictory emotions, a desire to be someone else than who she really is, and all the insecurities normal human beings feel. She reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age, and it was pleasant to see that not all fantasy heroines need the same generic personality to accomplish things, and kindness can get you a long way as well.

The other characters were very interesting as well. I simply loved how Amanda von Hoffmann described the imperfect faeries: Fafnir with his stutter, Nola with her childlike behaviour and Lyric himself. The faeries had personalities of them own, but none were the cunning, mischevious and somewhat-evil kind described in mythology, fairytales and recent faerie-related books like The Iron Fey series and Glimmerglass. Von Hoffman’s faeries are kind, friendly creatures, who might be holding a few secrets of their own, but who won’t plan on feeding humans enchanted food or trick them into deals they don’t want. It was so refreshing not having to think about ‘what will the wicked faerie do next, and how will they trick the humans into making a deal with them’, and seeing another aspect of the faerieworld for once. I also like the character of Matt, although I was Team Lyric all the way. Lyric just had that mystery charm working for him that made me like him even more than I liked Matt. That, and he managed to show Isolde some of the strengths she possessed without her even realising it. That gives him additional credit as well.

Although the storyline evolves around a little of different things:the possible haunting, Isolde’s issues with her mother homeschooling her, her relationship with Matt, the journey to the faerie realm, etc., I had the feeling Behind Green Glass is mostly a sort of coming-of-age story. We see how at first, Isolde is filled with concerns and insecurities. She isn’t happy with the person she is, and wants to be stronger and more outgoing. As the story develops, and Isolde is forced to make some harsh decisions and to rely on her own strength and courage to not only save herself, but also the friends she cares deeply about, I could see her personality developing as well. It was quite clear and easy to see, and I love it when a character manages to grow throughout the story, and become a better person in the end. This growth process is wonderfully written and shown, and in some ways it made me feel very proud of Isolde. By the end, I was going all ‘You go, girl!’.

I really enjoyed reading Behind Green Glass. I thought the writing was spot-on, the characters had interesting personalities, and the entire take on the faerieworld was refreshing, new and innovative. The storyline itself was fast-paced and original. If you want a light and easy read, but a well-written one with a more original take on faeries, then Behind Green Glass is definately an excellent option.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Majanka…sometimes, I find that I have the most difficulty writing reviews of books that really captured me. Books that I loved and wanted to share with others in such a way that they, too, can see what I’ve seen.

    You did a great job of showing us that very thing: The characters and their unique personalities, along with the issues they are facing.

    Now I’m really wanting to read this book. Thanks, Majanka!

    • Thanks! I couldn’t help but think that somehow I didn’t really get my message across, but thanks to your comment, I think I just might have succeeded!

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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