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A Face Like Glass

Cover of A Face Like Glass

A Face Like Glass

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In the underground city of Caverna, the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . . 

In the underground city of Caverna, the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . . 

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About the Author-
  • Frances Hardinge is the winner of the 2015 Costa Book of the Year for The Lie Tree, one of just two young adult novels to win this major UK literary prize. She is the author of several books for children, including Cuckoo Song, The Lost Conspiracy, Fly By Night, Well Witched, and Fly Trap. She lives in England. franceshardinge.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 6, 2017
    An amnesiac girl named Neverfell is thrust into court politics she can’t begin to understand in this complex, claustrophobic, and deeply compelling novel, originally published in the U.K. in 2012. The citizens of the mazelike underground city of Caverna have turned the production of food and other goods into decadent art, with “wines that rewrote the subtle book of memory, cheeses that brought visions... perfumes that ensnared the mind, and balms that slowed ageing to a crawl.” Additionally, no one born in Caverna has the ability to show natural facial expressions, so Facesmiths teach citizens artificial ones with names like “In Contemplation of Verdigris” or “An Ode to Peppermint.” Neverfell’s face, however, reveals true, unguarded emotion—something terrifyingly alien in Caverna. Hardinge (The Lie Tree) has created a world of great affectation and pretense, as well as visceral danger; poisonings and blithely ordered executions are persistent threats. Hardinge’s characteristically lush and sophisticated language will entrance readers, and she makes wonderful use of her singular setting and wildly eccentric cast to pose haunting questions about reality, artifice, and the things we attempt to conceal. Ages 14–up.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 1, 2017
    A new-old book from Hardinge (published in the U.K. in 2012 but only now arriving stateside) balancing wit and wonder with a dose of big thoughts. In an underground world where wines control memories and perfumes ensnare minds, babies don't smile. Expressions are taught; for drudges, only a few Faces, none angry; for members of the Court, hundreds, designed to convey nuanced emotions and hide the truth, taught by celebrated Facesmiths. But 12-year-old Neverfell, white, freckled, red-haired, and taller than almost everyone, is different: her titular face shows her every emotion, uncontrollably, meaning she alone cannot lie. When she runs away from Cheesemaster Grandible, she becomes the pawn of various schemers among the Court and eventually the face of a revolution. Hardinge excels at wordplay and worldbuilding; witty but not trite, her utterly original setting and chaotic, fidgety protagonist anchor a cracking good story that raises important ideas surrounding the nature of friendship, the value of honesty, and the danger of too much, whether luxury, ambition, power, or desire. Each character, however minor, however exaggerated and absurd, leaps fully realized from the page (witness the Kleptomancer, whose thievery is part of a plan he has hidden even from himself). Madcap, mysterious, magical, and meaty: like Grandible's cheeses, this may cause visions--or just make your head explode (with delight). Don't miss it. (Fantasy. 10-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2017

    Gr 5 Up-Neverfell didn't mean to cause a stir when she left Cheesemaster Grandible's tunnels for the first time, nor could she have known that she would become a darling of the court, the target of assassins, a captive of the Kleptomancer, a pawn of the powerbrokers, or a leader of an uprising. She is just a girl trying to figure out who she is and where she came from. Neverfell is an outsider with no memories of her past, living in the underground city of Caverna, which includes an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and is overseen by a decadent and rotting 500-year-old Grand Steward and an equally corrupt and conniving group of ruling families who make up his court. They are led by master craftsmen who supply the upper crust and the outside world with exotic, expensive, and sometimes explosive delicacies. Why would anyone look twice at a young, guileless cheese-maker's apprentice? In a world where nothing is taken at face value and everything is for sale, including facial expressions that various courtiers pay top dollar to acquire, Neverfell's dynamic and always shifting gaze stops people in their tracks and makes her more than an oddity but rather a force to be reckoned with. Hardinge is at the top of her game with this entrancing and action-packed adventure. Her voluptuous prose is full of sensory details and wildly imaginative descriptions, yet the world-building is controlled and gradually revealed. Readers will learn about this caustic and claustrophobic society right along with the protagonist and be highly invested in her struggle. VERDICT A compelling and triumphant follow-up to The Lie Tree for those who love to become immersed in a good story.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Face Like Glass
A Face Like Glass
Frances Hardinge
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