Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
– – – – –
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: gorgeous prose; crisp, clear descriptions readers can almost see/feel/hear/taste/smell; a complex, entertaining blend of fairy tale and horror/mystery; an edge-of-your-seat, keep-you-up-all-night journey
OH. MY. GOODNESS.
I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this read! I can’t even explain right now, so I’ll start with something simple. The cover? Absolutely gorgeous. The words on both the front AND the spine of the dusk jacket are raised, and sort of allude to the “glass casket”–a fitting title, all things considered, though not QUITE what this story is about!
The prose is beautiful. McCormick Templeman obviously knows a thing or two about the “show, don’t tell” schpeal—she does so beautifully. Don’t believe me? Take a glimpse at a few of my favorite beautiful quotes, why don’t you:
“Roughly Rowan’s age, the girl had been beautiful in the way that a crisp apple was delicious—almost too sharp, but with an underlying sweetness that makes its jaggedness seem merely bright.” (page 8)
“To look on a dead man’s secrets was to invite disaster.” (page 26)
“Fear is the domain of the small-minded. You are to be a scholar, my dear, and scholars do not go around fearing the wind and quivering away at the thought of wolves.” (page 38)
“There are some men who love only once, and Tom Parstle was such a man.” (page 335)
There’s this beautiful, almost masterful blending of fairy tales and horror that leaves a delicious, anticipatory tingle across the mind while reading. The characters leap to life from the page, secrets held and kept close until just the right moment, the many unexpected twists catching at hearts. You never know quite what to expect next; McCormick Templeman worked hard to keep readers from being able to see TOO far ahead, instead playing foreshadowing and clues close to the page.
I’ve read a few other reviews for this, and discovered some people feel it opened too slowly. I didn’t feel it did; I was so wrapped up in the beautiful imagery, so ensnared by the characters and their different movements, I felt the read passed more quickly than I might have liked—it was over too soon, leaving me wishing for more.
There are several nods toward well-known fairy tales: Snow White and Red Riding Hood play very prominent roles in the creation of this tale, I have a feeling, and McCormick Templeman both honored them and made them just enough her own to stand apart. The tale of Sleeping Beauty also, for a moment, makes an entrance. All of these elements are woven and interlocked so tightly, you wouldn’t know they were there unless you were actively looking (I was). The horror puts a new, and decidedly Brothers Grimm, twist to each of these well-loved stories.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a TRUE YA fairy tale/retelling without a love triangle…but it’s done so well, you won’t even notice it’s there. (And really, if I’m being honest, it’s more a love…hectagon? Is that even a thing? Who cares, it’s a thing now.) There IS something very close to insta-love…but again, there’s just such a twist on it to make it work for this story, so I didn’t mind it much either. The idea behind it is carefully done; I appreciated McCormick Templeman’s sensitivity toward such cliches/tropes in this. She also explored religion and personal beliefs in a fascinating, emotionally engaging way, so I applaud her for this as well.
I should probably put a trigger warning on this read for violence, gore, and almost-rape; if these things make you at all uncomfortable, please consider them carefully before picking up this read.
Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this, and would definitely recommend to lovers of fairy tales, retellings, and horror/mystery stories alike. A must-read!