The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw (♦♦♦)
Legend has it that there’s a creature in St. Hauda’s Land who turns everything to white and glass with only a glance. Albino animals are proof of that. Also, St. Hauda’s Land is home to exotic creatures like moth winged bulls.
Ida Maclaird is an outsider but has come to live in the islands after her feet have turned to glass. She is looking for Henry Fuwa, a hermit of sorts, whom she believes is going to help her find a cure for her ailment.
Ida finds a chance at love in Midas Crook, a young man with a complicated family history worth exploring and untangling… Only they are running out of time.
I liked The Girl with Glass Feet, though not as much as I thought I would. I had difficulty reading this book despite being only 287 pages long because of the exotic vocabulary I’m not used to; due to that I had to read paragraphs over and over to make sure I understood what was going on. I did like the underlying messages of the story; it is about second chances, redemption, but it’s also about how memory can distort reality and mistakes that cannot be taken back.
The Girl with Glass Feet is fascinating in detail and scope--a fairy tale for adults in a winter wonderland populated by very flawed characters--, however I found it wanting due to its predictable ending, somehow I would have like a happier development, a glimmer of hope.
After the book ended I thought there were unanswered questions such as why Ida thought Henry Fuwa would be able to help her and why mention Midas’ father’s reason to end his life if that wasn’t going to play a bigger role in the story. Midas’ father’s diary would have provided more clues to understand him but Midas chose to get rid of it without open it…Those questions left me deeply unsatisfied.
In summary, The Girl with Glass Feet is a fairy tale for adults populated by exotic creatures and told with exquisite language, but also somewhat difficult to understand by the average (like me) reader.
“An armada of jellyfish had floated in on the tide. One or two were large as sails, with bodies rippling just inches under the surface, flying pennants of tentacles. The tiniest ones were the size of thimbles, with crests of violet suckers. One giant orb glowed brighter than the others. Its body was full of a nebula of golden light, as if it had swallowed an angel.
[…] Another jelly flashed, and this one stayed alight. A yellow blaze bobbing in the water. Its emanation kindled the lights of its neighbors. Their bodies sparkled, and the sparkles turned to steady shines: yellow, pink, crimson and cyan. The effect slowly ricocheted across the cove until the water was a multicolored brilliance. Refracted color glittered up the walls of the houses.
Midas and Ida leaned in silence over the rail of the deck. He noticed how close her hands were to his on the rail. He didn’t move away.
‘Imagine living in a place like this,’ she said, ‘where you could watch this every night’”. Page 192-193
“In the water huge, elegant bodies moved. A narwhal pod. Funny, she thought, how invisible those creatures could make themselves under only a little water. She remembered she had dived once between a mother humpback and her calf. In cyan equatorial oceans.
[…] The tusks were followed by blunt heads with stargazing, infantile eyes. Whale bodies tore open the sea like it was wrapping paper. They bulged to the surface crisped with barnacles, their blubber streaked with flashes of black and white obsidian and quartz. They defied the weight of the water for a few moments before grudgingly slipping back under the sea, disappearing in craters of ocean, leaving only a puff of breath hanging in the cold air.
[…] Midas was engrossed. It was dawning on him that he had never considered what the sea was like when it wasn’t set against the land. It was another planet.” Page 278