Book Review: A spin-off that doesn’t let up

Book Review: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

When  glass orbs start exploding in the hands of the most powerful magicians of the Stormdancer clans, it becomes clear that they might not be able to provide the harnessed power of the thunder storms for the local factories.

So they call in Opal, glass mage-in-training, to investigate, thus pulling her into a deadly conspiracy. On the side plot, there is Opal’s rival, Pazia, at school, and a love triangle between the powerful Stormdancer Kade and the tormented glassblower Ulrik. (DRAMA ENSUES)

I loved Snyder’s first series, and her latest release, A Touch of Power, got hit with a five canary rating. This book, however, didn’t zing my reading tooth. In fact, I don’t think it would have zinged if I had gotten a couple more fillings, covered the book with aluminum foil, and bitten down. Which is a right shame, because Snyder’s writing is there.

Enter my split-canary personalities:

Confused Canary:  If you want to enjoy this book (and understand who all the characters are and their oblique references to traumatic pasts), you should read the previous series. Having gone through the Study series when it first came out (2005-2008) and then tackled Storm Glass in 2012, I had only the vaguest recollections of what happened to the rather minor character of Opal in book 3. I struggled.

Skeptical Canary: Storm Glass follows Opal Cowan as she deals with the aftermath of being used, poisoned, tortured, and of betraying her family in friends in Fire Study (the aforementioned book 3 of the Study series). She is now studying glass magic while slowly healing from the aftermath of her ordeal. Opal is gradually coming to grips with her past and–

Well, no. Not really.

Opal turns out to be a very resilient character that slogs on despite her past and without catatonic relapse after she is (MAJOR SPOILER ADVISORY, SKIP TO “Grumpy Canary” TO AVOID SPOILAGE) tortured again (not once, but twice) by the same man who had tortured her before, who was responsible for the death of her sibling, and with whom she’d been unknowingly sleeping for months. Nevermind the torture, betrayal, and trauma of the previous series: any of these issues should have sent any sane person into a mental tailspin.

Grumpy Canary: Instant love. Need I say more? And while I’ve seen Snyder use this trope wonderfully in her other books, I fail to see a realistic foundation for the tru lurve connection that is underscored at the end of Storm Glass.  I can’t seem to win when it comes to romance. I blame  it on these tricksy covers.

Fair Canary: I did finish the book. And I imagine I would have loved it a little (a lot) more if I’d gotten it straight after the previous series, with all its adventures fresh in my mind. That said, this book delivers on mystery and suspense. There is a walloping of dramatic tension when we realize who the baddie is but Opal remains oblivious, and the world’s mix of magic and dystopia is a helluva lot of fun. If you’re not as feathery-obsessive about the details as I am, you’re probably have a great time. The adventure delivers.

Conclusive Canary: All in all, I don’t think I’ll be reading the next book in the series–

Honest Canary: Oh who am I kidding? Of course I will be. Only reason I haven’t yet is that the local library doesn’t have it. Nook lendable, anyone?


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11 thoughts on “Book Review: A spin-off that doesn’t let up

    • I sometimes think there are different categories of book-reading experiences. Perhaps:

      1. Will read on.
      2. Will read on and recommend.
      3. Will read on and recommend and read everything else author published.
      4. Will read on etc.etc. + write fanfiction and doodle fan art while looking for a local fan club.

      • With:
        -1. Won’t read any more in this series.
        -2. Won’t read any more by this author.
        -3. Won’t even finish this book, and will look at people with utter confusion when they proclaim they love it.

        I imagine every book by any author will generate each and every one of those reactions to a certain extent.

        Any of the first four are good, at least for the individual book. If you can hook people into reading more, then more power to you. Series’ are always a good start.

        • Then there’s the neither here nor there twilight world of…

          – 0.3 So terrible you know you’re gonna keep reading.
          – 0.4 So terrible you know you’re gonna tell everyone you know about it.

          • Which, I guess, just goes to show you don’t have to be an awesome author to earn large amounts of money if you hit just the right note … So, how do they do it?

            BTW: Have not read, and will not read, the Twilight books. I saw the start of one movie and it was just too painful to watch. Send me screen shots of the shirtless Jake, though, I might take a look.

            • My impression: Twilight movie, sharpie eyebrows.

              One trend that I have noticed among the heavy hitters is their reliance on well-established tropes, particularly in the fantasy/YA genre (not touching lit fic or high sci-fi with a ten foot pike, here). Jim Butcher is quoted saying:

              “When I finally got tired of arguing with her [his teacher, Deborah Chester] and decided to write a novel as if I was some kind of formulaic, genre writing drone, just to prove to her how awful it would be, I wrote the first book of the Dresden Files.”

              • So, don’t fight it … go with the rest of the herd and you’ll do fine.
                But, no, I just can’t do the vampire thing.
                Ah well, best to go actually write the thing and worry about it later, I guess … or finish it and then go write a vampire story.

                • To be fair to cliches, it’s not about what you write, but how you write it–be they vampires, snarky detectives, or spaceship captains. There just needs to be that extra twist that gives it the illusion of originality and makes it stand out from that herd.

                  Writing quality helps, of course. >.>

                  And then there are those rare books that set the trends,

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