Written by Ali Shaw
Romance, Magical Realism, Adult
Published January 4th 2012 (org. 2009) by Picador
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Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around the icy bog land, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts, a main lander who has visited the islands only once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.
Midas Crook is a young loner who has lived on the islands his entire life. When he meets Ida, something about her sad, defiant spirit pierces his emotional defenses. As Midas helps Ida come to terms with her affliction, she gradually unpicks the knots of his heart. Love must be paid in precious hours and, as the glass encroaches, time is slipping away fast. Will they find a way to stave off the spread of the glass?
On a wintery island far from the real world is a young girl. Her name is Ida, and she is running out of time. Every day that passes, glass slowly inches up her body. She only has so long to find a cure for the mystical disease she has contracted. However, her glass feet make getting around difficult which slows her search. Ida's story is wreathed in mystery and wonder. The search for a cure takes her back to St. Hauda's Land. When she meets a lone stranger in the woods, she is captivated.
This lone man is none other than Midas Crook. Midas has been shrouded in misery and bad luck ever since he was a child. Now in his twenties, he leads a solitary life, avoiding most contact with other people. He eats and breathes photography, it is his passion. So when he stumbles on an odd, shadowy girl with peculiarly large boots he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. At first he only wishes to capture her unique image, until he learns about her glass feet. Midas is her only hope in finding the cure, and in a way, Ida is the only cure for Midas.
This book is weird. One of the weirdest that I have read. But I like weird. I search for weird. I found weird. I'll be honest, I chose to read this book because I wanted a standalone, and because I fell in love with the cover. It's probably one of my favorite covers, I love the beauty of it. I have issues processing how I really feel about this book because it's one that just kind of leaves you utterly bewildered. The magical realism was done is such a way that had me believing that the creatures and the glass feet could be real. That on some far and distant island there could very well be a herd of miniscule cattle with moth wings, or a rare and wondrous creature that could turn whatever she looked at white. It was spectacular to be able to feel that.
I'm used to reading YA fiction, so when I took a chance with Adult fiction I knew it would be a bit more stuffy than what I'm used to. And it was a bit stuffy. The topics the book dealt with included suicide, broken hearts, love and being lost. I could appreciate the story because I knew it wasn't some fluffy fantasy. It had fantasy/magical aspects to it, sure but it wasn't coated in sugar. I think the best way I can describe this book is that it was raw. It delves into the crooks and crannies of human nature without shame.
"It was just her and Midas in here, tucked away from the world. Here she could turn quietly into glass, with only love to distract her."
Ali Shaw writes incredibly well. His words are wondrous and awful where they need to be. I did find that some of the cussing used jarred the beauty of some scenes; however, it was easily forgiven. Sometimes the writing was very complex, and it took a lot of brain power to translate some bits (mostly because I read at night and slosh through tiredly, oops) but overall I adored every second of his writing. Especially when he would describe the winged cattle, I like those little guys.
What really bothered me about this book was the way the POV's lined up. One minute it would be the present in Midas POV, the next it would be Ida's past, then her in the present, then Midas in the present. Then it went on to a character I don't think was very relevant to the story (some odd man who was lowkey obsessed with Ida's mom). It took my out of the moment and I found myself slowly enjoying the book less and less. If the POV's would have been constructed in a better manner, I may have enjoyed it more. Plus, I didn't really fancy the characters - they were bland and unlikeable, maybe that was the point. I just didn't like them which makes any story hard for me to like at that point.
At the end of the day it felt like plot vomit, and as if I were reading the seizuring memories of multiple people. Also, the ending was extremely abrupt - there was no coaxing or coddling. Just wing, wham and bam. Some may think differently, I may just be used to my YA ways, but I was left feeling hollow and unsatisfied. That's not to say I wont read another work from this author, but The Girl with Glass Feet just wasn't a book for me and that's okay.
The fairytale feel to it was super enjoyable, and the budding romance between Midas and Ida was nice too. But in all honestly, I expected a lot more from this book when I read the synopsis. Maybe I'm just not used to adult fiction, but I found myself almost lulled to sleep while reading. I adored the creatures - that bit was delightfully weird and imaginative. The plot was intriguing and the writing was filled with purple prose. But if you're like me and are more drawn to fast paced and lively plots then this one surely wouldn't be for you. Overall I enjoyed the world of St. Hauda's Land, but not the characters who lived on land or what happened to them which didn't make for an entirely great read.
Kynndra is currently reading Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout and wadding through life like a good Canadian turtle.