Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: August 4th

Cover Impressions: Meh. Moskowitz has had much better.

The Gist:
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.

I have a love/hate relationship with Hannah Moskowitz.  I love her creative settings, enthralling characters and well paced plots.  I hate how very, very, very, dark her books are.  A History of Glitter and Blood was no exception.

The reader was treated to a book in progress.  Scrap writes about events as they unfold, with a back and forth between before Cricket's death and after.  The tenses change to differentiate between the two and helps keep the reader on track.  The idea of reading the events as they happen gives a unique sense of suspense as we are never quite sure where the story will go or if it will end abruptly.  It also adds an interesting element as Scrap is clearly not the most reliable of story tellers.  He self-edits as he goes, leaving chastising notes for himself and also writes about events for which he clearly could not have been present.  The text itself is sprinkled with additional elements like pictures and pasted in parts from other books.  This adds beautiful visual interest and my only complaint is that I wanted more! I was left really longing for more photographs, particularly of the trio and the different races.
Moskowitz creates a really intriguing world in this novel.  Fairies that live, not flitting about in forests but anchored in a city with real jobs.  I was really fascinated by the idea that the fairies never really died.  Instead, they can lose pieces of themselves, but they will always feel them.  No one really knows at what point the fairies stop existing - if they every do.  The plot is evenly placed but, other than the final few scenes, does not have a great deal of excitement.  Rather, it spins a steady tale in which we learn the history of the war and its eventual end.

As always, Moskowitz's world is strange and dark.  She always seems to feature some type of sexual exploitation, especially with young characters and I think it is this inclusion, more than any others, that make me uncomfortable in reading her books.  Perhaps it is being a teacher of teenagers, or having children, but I just find this part of her writing very difficult to get through.  In this book, she explores prostitution.  Beckan, Scrap, and Cricket sold their services to the Gnomes in exchange for food.  However, it is written about in a very strange way.  The characters seemed to revel in their work, despite the very dangerous situations they were placed in and the fact that it had already resulted in the "death" of their friend.  I think it is this that made it so difficult for me to connect to the characters.  I found that I had much more sympathy for the character that was already "dead" than for any of the ones I was supposed to be left rooting for.

Bottom Line: Though this novel didn't quite work for me, it certainly had a unique world and an interesting style of storytelling.  It will be a fantastic read for those readers who are already fans of Moskowitz and those who wish to delve into a dark fantasy with an unreliable narrator who will leave you questioning most of what he writes.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Sex:  Sex between teenagers
Violence: Gunplay, Knifeplay, Eating of other creatures, Loss of limbs
Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Bitch, asshole, Whore, Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking
Other Issues: Prostitution


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