Healing Glass: A Gifted Guilds Novel by Jackie Keswick. An in-depth review.

I received an advance review copy of this book but I can assure you that if I hadn’t liked it I wouldn’t have reviewed it at all here!

I loved the story of Minel and Falcon and their strong bond. I enjoy fantasy novels, not least for their fascinating world-building, and this was no exception. The floating city of glass, with its possible sentience, is a wonderful concept and the author helps the reader to see it clearly, along with a thrilling awareness of the ‘invisible’ steps that lead to the shore.

At the beginning of the story, Minel, a glass master-craftsman, is suffering from a severe and probably fatal disease, one which we gradually learn was contracted by more than an unlucky chance. We are also given a glimpse, or clue, in the prologue, of the fact that all is not well with the city, its craft-masters and its council.

Falcon, a warrior captain, is desperately anxious for Minel to live. I enjoyed their growing relationship and the way their society was depicted so that same-sex love is never presented as anything unusual, and the culture clash that always appeals to me in stories is between craftsmen, warriors, commercial experts and councilmen or administrators.

There is sufficient angst and mystery to grip the reader, the descriptions of both locations and characters are detailed and excellent, and even the most minor characters come alive in the hands of a competent writer. There is magic, but it never overwhelms the plot or becomes unrealistic. The two main protagonists and their friends are highly gifted but at all times there is stress on how much hard work has led them to the flowering of their abilities.

I was, towards the end, slightly disappointed that we didn’t learn more about the wider context of the world in which the story is set, but it appears there will be sequels, or at least books set in the same world, so hopefully this will be remedied. Meanwhile, there were other pleasures, such as the details of glass making, and other ways of life.

I would highly recommend this book and look forward to the next volume.

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