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The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The Glass Demon is Helen Grant's follow up to The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, a book previously reviewed on this blog back in June.  The Glass Demon is every bit as gripping as Grant's debut, starting from the killer first lines.  Demon is a dark and sinister, modern myth, and, like its predecessor, takes place in Germany.  Grant is expert at evoking the claustrophobia and clique-ishness of small town life where locals close ranks against outsiders and rumors and gossip fly like nobody's business.

In the wake of a career setback, Lin's father uproots the family from their home in England and packs them off to the remote German countryside to spend the year living in a rundown castle in the middle of a forest.  When the family arrives, they come across an old man lying dead in an orchard, the ground around him littered with shattered glass, and when Lin's father refuses to report the corpse to the police, the reader knows this cannot bode well.  Indeed the family discovers that their castle has no internet, no cell phone reception and no phone land line and as the story progresses this technological isolation of the family from the nearby town and help takes a sinister and dangerous turn.

Lin's father's on the trail of a set of very valuable, very ancient, long vanished stained glass windows steeped in myth and bloody legend.  In fact locals believe the windows that once adorned a nearby abbey before it was dismantled to be cursed and better off lost to the sands of time and history.  When other corpses turn up also surrounded by shattered glass and later sinister incidents occur leaving more shattered glass in their wake, it's clear to Lind, if no one else in her family, that the locals are intent on warning her father off the trail of the windows and running her family out of their town.

Even as Lin is preoccupied with these dark occurrences, she's blinded to the insidious disorder taking root in her sister's psyche and body.  When Lin finally does see what's right in front of her, she realizes she has no one to turn to for the help her sister needs.  In the end, for better or worse, Lin decides that if she wants answers, she's going to have to be the one to find them because her vain father, drama queen mother and conflict avoiding sister will be no help in this hunt.

In addition to the disturbing and frightening events driving this family to its breaking point, Grant adds another layer to the story in the portrayal of the dynamics of this family.  Specifically the parents' lack of parental concern and failure to respond to parental responsibilities are just as distressing as the external threats to the family.  Many times it seems like Lin is the only family member with the common sense, gumption and courage to take action even as she realizes that she cannot count on any of her family members for back up or support.

I highly recommend this book.  It's a fast read and hard to put down especially during its extremely frightening conclusion.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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