Sunday, February 14, 2016


The Glass Sentence, S E Grove, Puffin Books, 2104, 489 pp
 Summary from Goodreads: Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.
My Review:
I think I have let my ability to read fantasy wane through disuse. This is the second one in two months that left me confused by the plot. But even as I write these words, it comes back to me that I have felt this way before in many fantasy novels. Dr Strange and Mr Norrell, some of the Harry Potter books, parts of the His Dark Materials trilogy, parts of the Lord of the Rings books. I think it is mostly due to the magic, which is not necessarily based on logic and so doesn't make sense in "the real world."

Other than that sense of disoriented confusion, I found much to love in The Glass Sentence: the world building that created the Great Disruption, the fantastic cartology and resulting maps, and most of all 13-year-old Sophia Tims with her disability/gift of losing track of time!

The book has been classified as for young readers 10 and up. When I told my 10-year-old grandson about a world where different continents existed side by side geographically but each one was in a different time period, he was instantly interested. But I wonder if many 10-year-old readers could understand the book. Probably I underestimate them. Probably they would sail through it like they did the early Harry Potter books.

I found a review on-line by a 13-year-old reader who loved the book and complained not a bit about being confused. I am going to read the sequels because by the end of this one Sophie had not yet found her parents. The second was published in 2015: The Golden Specific. The third, The Crimson Skew, will come out this year, completing The Mapmaker's Trilogy.

But first I am going to reread this one. After all I must have read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at least five times when I was a kid. It also made more sense to me then!

(The Glass Sentence is available in paperback on the shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. I think kids do have an easier time entering into fantasy worlds and simply accepting them, maybe because they have less experience than us with the real world. I find that I still love and have no trouble understanding the fantasy books that I discovered in my youth and I do sometimes find it harder to understand and even like some of the fantasy being written today. Of course, that being said, I did enjoy all the Harry Potter books that my kids insisted that I read, so maybe there's hope for me.

    1. Maybe when we are REALLY old we can go back to that state of wonder!

  2. When I was in my teens I read lots of science fiction (fantasy not so much), but started feeling that it wasn't for me as I grew older. Now I'm plunging into those two genres again little by little. I did it with The Martian by Andy Weir, which was more popular science than science fiction, and Slade House by David Mitchell, which was fantasy and lots of fun.

    1. Hurrah for the speculative genres!

  3. I'm sure a 13 yr old would outshine me in the fantasy genre. I liked this genre as a kid but now I'm pretty weak. Once really Old I hope to return to a better state of wonder!