Thursday, 10 May 2012

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 490

In Caverna, lies are an art - and everyone's an artist . . .
In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear - at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from Macmillan to read and review. I loved reading A Face Like Glass! I hadn't read any books by Frances Hardinge before but after reading this book I would definitely pick up another of her books if I saw it in my local book store! I found A Face Like Glass to be a bit of a cross between the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder and the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore, (all of which I enjoyed, but not as much as A Face Like Glass!). There were many concepts within this book that I had never read about or even heard of before, such as the Cartographers, Facesmiths, Master craftsmen and Putty Girls. In particular, I was fascinated with the Facesmiths, Putty Girls and the concept of needing "Faces" to begin with! The higher you came in the class system the more entitled you were a wider range of Faces, a higher quality of Faces and the highly sought after services of a Facesmith. The right Face personally adjusted to your specifications by a highly talented Facesmith could make or break your reputation in The Court. Faces are status symbols in Caverna, you must have a Face perfect for each situation presented to you. There were also many concepts within A Face Like Glass that I have read about before and enjoyed which probably drew me to this book in the first place, such as underground living, assassins and the class system. I really enjoyed reading about the unique class system in A Face Like Glass. Your social status depended on what Faces you possess, but the Faces you possess depend on your social status. An ever decreasing, vicious circle for the Drudges, whilst those in The Court and those that are the family of Master craftsmen have seemingly endless amounts of opportunities to better themselves. My favourite characters were Erstwhile, Neverfell and Cheesemaster Grandible. Despite being a Drudge Erstwhile strives to better himself and improve the lives of those around him in the Doldrums, whilst also trying to help Neverfell out, any way he can, which is why he is one of my favourite characters. Neverfell is also one of my favourite characters because of her openness and naivety, even when someone is clearly trying to use her or lie to her, she sees the best in them. Out of all three, Cheesemaster Grandible is my favourite though because despite the consequences if he is caught he desperately tries to protect Neverfell the outsider. I love the cover of my ARC copy of A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge! Although the actual mass market cover is quite pretty and magical, I prefer my ARC version because of the simplistic yet sophisticated design. 

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