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The Glass Town Game

Cover: 'The Glass Town Game'

Staff Review: "The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente


What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation.

Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like in the game the children always play with their wooden soldiers in the upstairs room of the parsonage. Here in the real Glass Town they are living, moving people. Like in dreams, they can be made out of practically anything and still make sense: wood, iron, orange blossoms and a wedding dress, perfume, pelts of fur, etc. And in Glass Town things are just what they mean—a teaspoon is made out of tea! But when things start happening that never occurred in their own stories, the children become desperate to save their friends and return to Haworth, England.

I won’t say this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read, because it is very like Alice in Wonderland. However, it is truly so full of original characters and plot twists that it holds its own in the field of fantasy writing. Who has ever heard of a shape-shifting suitcase creature that resembles a snail, but is made up of everything packed inside? It’s not only for children, either. All the romance, history, French, and poetry of a Brontë novel is included as well as appearances from Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Duke of Wellington for older readers to enjoy. Valente’s portrayal of these famous literary figures as children really brought them all to life for me: stubborn Charlotte, fierce Emily, tender Anne, and brave (if sometimes foolish or spiteful) Branwell—who constantly carries all the weight of being the only boy. Knowing their eventual fates makes moments of this book all the more moving.

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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