Written by: Hannah Moskowitz
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Pages: 280, Hardback
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Thank you to Chronicle Books for the ARC!
Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.
This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.
I don’t normally do this, but here’s an image that adequately describes how I feel about A History of Glitter and Blood:
“You’re weird, but I like you.”
Book, you are incredibly weird. Among other things, you have three different timelines that alternate in an incredibly confusing fashion, a bunch of completely random species all living together, casual dismemberment, teen prostitution, body parts that characters can feel even after they’ve been removed (something that MAJORLY squicked me out, by the way), and a narrator who sometimes breaks from the story to rant and flat-out admits that some of the things he’s telling us aren’t even a little bit true.
So I can understand why some people read the first fifty-or-so pages and gave up. The combination of confusion, squick, and unorthodox narration might be too much for some people.
Despite all the weirdness (or maybe partially because of it), I am one of the only maybe five people on Goodreads who liked this book. Hannah Moskowitz’s writing hits me on a visceral level that works with the brutality of the world, and the characters made me very emotional.
And honestly, I love it when books are weird. Give me all the confusing timelines and unreliable narrators and what-do-you-mean-it-wasn’t-made-on-drugs moments. It may take me a while to get into it, but when I do, I’m almost always very invested. The risks Hannah Moskowitz took in writing this book really paid off for me, and she remains one of my favorite new-to-me authors of 2015.
The book’s disjointedness can be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal preferences. I liked it, but it makes things incredibly difficult for readers, perhaps more difficult than it should be. It’s messy and headache-inducing and made doubly say by the fact that we’re kind of thrown into the middle of the story without any build-up, so you may have to reread certain parts to be sure of what exactly is going on. Again, I didn’t mind, but I know a lot of people did.
The world-building was a little…thrown together, and I suspect that if I looked carefully at the structure, it would fall apart. I don’t know much about it, and I don’t fully understand what I do know. It feels more like a collage of bizarrecoolcreepy half-formed ideas than an actual setting.
I’m also not entirely sure what to make of the book’s treatment of prostitution. Some parts were really effective, while others made me genuinely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I can’t go into more detail without spoilers.
The book’s originality made it memorable to me. I mean, wow. Fairies who can feel their missing body parts, gnomes who eat fairies, freaking tightropers…not to mention the framing device, where the narrator is writing the story from the point of view of the main character and flat-out admits he has no idea how much of what he’s writing is actually true. (And he’s usually writing things two or three days after they actually happen, so sometimes we get bits of foreshadowing to keep everything exciting.) Considering how many fairy books there are in YA, I love that this one stands out.
Also, Hannah Moskowitz’s writing is absolutely beautiful. In my mini-review back in my July wrap-up, I described it as “disjointed and rambly and visceral”. It’s simultaneously poetic and brutal, and it basically tears my heart to pieces.
And the characters! Beckan and Josha and Scrap and the others are all part of an incredibly messed-up family just trying to survive their incredibly messed up situation. They’re all broken and sad and lost and trying to hold everything together the best they can. Sometimes they hurt each other, but oh my god they all love each other so much, and it makes me want to cry and wrap them in a blanket and make sure nothing bad happens to them ever. I have a huge weakness for that kind of dynamic. As you can probably tell.
Most people seem to either love or hate the book. If anything I said here sounds relevant to your interests, I highly suggest you give it a try!