Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Glass Houses

by Rachel Caine


Glass Houses is another riff on the "high school is Hell" theme made popular by Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The small town of Morganville is beset by the undead, who run the place on their own terms. Claire Danvers is new, so she doesn't yet know how things work. That means when she gets her washing stolen and gets on the wrong side of the school bullies she's not cautious about answering back, and she doesn't know what a world of trouble she's let herself in for.

Claire is bright, studious and small, and she's short of family or friends to back her up. All of this makes her vulnerable. But she compounds it because she's not very good at toeing the line. In Morganville unpopularity can be lethal. Things get so bad that she feels she can't stay in the dorms. However her options are limited, and when she goes looking for a new place she finds a house full of very strange people. Eve is a friendly goth, while Shane seems to be a bit of a slacker, but Michael Glass is the oddest of all. He's never around at all during the day and no-one knows what he does with himself. Claire has nowhere else to go, but does she really want to stay in their big, mysterious old house full of misfits with strange habits and unconventional ideas?

Morganville is a small town with secrets, and the place itself seems to cast spells on the people who live there. A veneer of respectability covers up all of the bloodthirsty goings-on. There's a lot of breathless running from place to place as the main characters try to avoid getting bitten or beaten up, and some of this appears a touch excessive. But before it gets tedious the plot twists and turns about, injecting variety into the story and challenging our expectations.

Romance is obviously in the air with a house full of young men and women thrown together under pressure. It's a little fluffy and sweet as the characters play cute games along the lines of who can be the most protective of the others. The love interest is predictable in terms of who falls for who, but that's okay. It doesn't detract from the emotional impact of this part of the story.

However the mystery aspect is on slightly shakier ground. Claire is supposed to be smart, but I was surprised by her lack of curiosity at certain points in the narrative, when she's inclined to sleep on a problem instead of getting to the root of it no matter what, like a bloodhound.

However Glass Houses is an exciting vampire thriller with a packed, fast-paced story. It's very, very readable. Although the characters can be denser than they should be they're likeable and intriguing. The book ends with a bang, drawing readers in effectively and making you want to read more about Claire Danvers and her world.

9th May 2011

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books

  YA     Horror
    Female Protagonist  

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Rachel Caine