March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge | SLJ Review

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redstarHARDINGE, Frances. A Face Like Glass. 496p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. May 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781419724848.

YA-Hardinge-AFaceLikeGlassGr 5 Up –Neverfell didn’t mean to cause a stir when she left Cheesemaster Grandible’s tunnels for the first time, nor could she have known that she would become a darling of the court, the target of assassins, a captive of the Kleptomancer, a pawn of the powerbrokers, or a leader of an uprising. She is just a girl trying to figure out who she is and where she came from. Neverfell is an outsider with no memories of her past, living in the underground city of Caverna, which includes an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and is overseen by a decadent and rotting 500-year-old Grand Steward and an equally corrupt and conniving group of ruling families who make up his court. They are led by master craftsmen who supply the upper crust and the outside world with exotic, expensive, and sometimes explosive delicacies. Why would anyone look twice at a young, guileless cheese-maker’s apprentice? In a world where nothing is taken at face value and everything is for sale, including facial expressions that various courtiers pay top dollar to acquire, Neverfell’s dynamic and always shifting gaze stops people in their tracks and makes her more than an oddity but rather a force to be reckoned with. Hardinge is at the top of her game with this entrancing and action-packed adventure. Her voluptuous prose is full of sensory details and wildly imaginative descriptions, yet the world-building is controlled and gradually revealed. Readers will learn about this caustic and claustrophobic society right along with the protagonist and be highly invested in her struggle. VERDICT A compelling and triumphant follow-up to The Lie Tree for those who love to become immersed in a good story.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth ( is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.