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The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

BOTTOM LINE: Decent beginning to a series

Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
Publication Date: 24 October 2017
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Wilhelmina Heidle, the fourth child and only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, though, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with Wil’s power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?”

My Thoughts: For the first half of The Glass Spare, I was convinced I knew exactly how the story was going to progress. In fact, I was correct in every guess I made about the plot. I was so confident that I knew how it was going to go down that I flirted with the idea of DNFing the book. It follows too many YA fantasy tropes for me to think otherwise: the girl born into a leadership family, an outsider to all but one person, discovering heretofore unknown powers/abilities; a mysterious and handsome stranger who just happens to be the outcast prince of a rivaling family. Thankfully, Ms. DeStefano changes things up a bit towards the latter half of the novel, and the story makes some surprising shifts in direction.

Because of these unforeseen twists, I was more pleasantly surprised by this newest series than I initially expected to be. I like the direction in which Ms. DeStefano takes the story and the suggested futures of the characters. There is the potential for a different type of ending for Wil’s story, one in which she doesn’t need or want a man and one in which she finds a way to resolve the conflict without any bloodshed or loss of loved ones. Still, I remain leery that she will still find a way to end the series in a more traditional, happily ever after fashion.

All that aside, everything about The Glass Spare feels stale. Wil’s power is unusual, but the way in which she handles herself is not. She has the YA heroine’s propensity to leap first and ask questions later and gets into situations that she could have avoided had she given it some thought. She is by no means a helpless princess, as her brothers have seen fit to make sure she can handle herself in almost any situation, but there again this is not anything new. There is almost too much attention paid to her gender and her mastery of very unladylike skills,  especially because fans of YA know that any heroine is not going to be very ladylike. The introduction of the prince is a somewhat unwelcome addition to the plot, if only because any time a man enters the picture in such novels, a love story results. Thankfully, this is one of the areas in which Ms. DeStefano manages to surprise me, and I can only hope she continues in the same vein.

The saving grace of The Glass Spare is the fact that by the end of the first book, Wil’s story is at a fork in the road. It can either progress down the path of familiar tropes or it can remain on its current path of something different. This places a particular burden on the second novel as it will be the point at which Ms. DeStefano decides her heroine’s fate. I can only hope she chooses the road not taken.

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