2009 Fantasy Other Prizes

The Girl with Glass Feet – Ali Shaw

 Short Listed for Costa First Novel Award 2009

The Girl with Glass Feet was Simon’s choice for Not the TV Book Group (an online book group formed recentlyby several UK book bloggers).

The book is set on a strange island, packed with weird animals; the plot centring on a woman called Ida, who discovers that she is slowly turning to glass.

The only word I can use to describe this book is bizarre! I’m afraid that I didn’t really understand the point of this book and the implausibility just seemed to grate on me rather than entertain.

Ida’s toes have turned to glass and she notices that the glass is spreading up her feet, but we have no explanation as to why this is occurring. There is no wicked witch to hate, or cursed place to avoid – it has just happened and Ida seems to accept it. She has a relationship with a man called Midas, but their relationship lacked emotion and I found that I didn’t really care what happened to them. I felt distanced from all the characters, never really understanding what motivated them to do anything.

The book also contained ‘bull moths’ – tiny cows with wings. Why?!! I just didn’t understand. Cows are ugly, muddy things and miniaturising them doesn’t make them cute. I can’t imagine one flying and couldn’t understand why they were present in the book.

Overall I found this to be a very frustrating book. Little was explained or tied up nicely at the end – it was just one bizarre event after another. I prefer stories based in reality, or at least with enough detail to immerse yourself in the strange new world. 

Lots of other people enjoyed it though, so head over to Simon’s blog to read the fantastic discussion in the comments section.

Did you enjoy The Girl with Glass Feet?

Can you accept bizarre occurrences in books, or do you need a plausible explanation?

2010 Fantasy

Ruby’s Spoon – Anna Lawrence Pietroni

Ruby’s Spoon is an atmospheric book with a fairy-tale feel. The story is set in a small town called Cradle Cross, famous for it’s button factory. The residents of the town are disturbed by the arrival of Isa, a strange woman who is searching for her sister. Ruby is drawn towards Isa and offers to help in the search, secretly hoping that she will be rewarded with a journey on the sea.

The majority of the book feels as though it is set in our world, but then something slightly out of the ordinary will happen; I was left wondering whether the mention of mermaids, witches and other strange events meant that it is actually set in a parellel universe.  

I loved the imagery in the book and there were some beautifully touching passages: 

“My daughter drowned before her had a birthday. My grief is here; this handkerchief. I’ve worked her letters here, fine stitches in the corner, but look at all the rest of it, this empty space that says what might have been.” “Yes, yo were blessed with grief so small that yo can keep it in your pocket. My son was fully grown when I lost him to the War. My grief is larger than a sail.”

The dialect did take a short amount of time to get used to, but after a few pages I enjoyed the added atmosphere that it gave to the book.

The plot was straightforward, but strangely mesmerizing. The bizarre nature of some scenes meant that you never really knew what would happen next. I found the ending a bit of an anti-climax, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

The book is very well written and packed with symbolism and underlying themes. The originality and depth of this book make it a perfect for a book group choice. I’d love to discuss some of the aspects of this book, so if you’ve read it please comment below.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys books which are slightly out of the ordinary.


Have you read Ruby’s Spoon?

Did the mermaid exist?

What made Isa a witch?

2009 Fantasy

Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan

Winner of The World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, 2009

I first saw Tender Morsels on Nymeth’s blog. Her passionate review was enough for me to add it straight to the wish list.

Tender Morsels is a beautiful, but dark, fairy tale. The book begins with one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in 2009. In the first few chapters we learn about Liga, a young woman living with her abusive father in the woods. Abused and raped, Liga finds herself pregnant and ends up alone in the world with two daughters. I loved this section so much that I thought this book would become one of my all time favourites. The scenes were vivid, without being graphic, and were packed with emotion.

Unfortunately, everything started to go wrong at about the hundred page mark, when, to make up for the terrible suffering that she had endured, Liga was transported to another world – one in which she was safe from harm.

I struggled to empathise with Liga at this point. The introduction of talking bears and other fairy-tale characters meant that all the tension and emotion just vanished for me. I found my reaction to be summed up really well by one of Liga’s daughters:

‘All the people do at home is smile and smile, and be kind. They have no opinions, and never want to go anywhere or do anything new. It is terribly dull.’

The writing was beautiful throughout and I can see why so many people love this book, but I’m afraid that the alternate world section just didn’t work for me. The book picked up a bit towards the end, but never regained the magic of the first few chapters.

I’m pleased that I read it, and recommend it to everyone, but I think you just need to be warned that it might not be for those who like their books to be based on reality.



Have you read Tender Morsels?

Do you have a problem with talking bears?!