Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land in Girl with Glass Feet. Magical winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts who has only visited the islands once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure. (via Goodreads)
The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw was originally published on May 1, 2009 by Atlantic Books. I picked this book out of my sister’s TBR pile. I think she picked this one because the cover was pretty. Being artistic (and a graphic designer), we’re both suckers for good cover art.
I had no expectations for this book when I started it, but man was this book weird. I was thinking that this would be a Cinderella retelling from the quotes on the back of the cover and the title. It turns out that it wasn’t, but it definitely had some fairytale elements. For example, Ida’s feet (and entire body) was turning to glass, and there were some moth-winged bulls that were taken care of by Henry Fuwa.
This story had several story lines were both interesting, but never really meshed together the way I wanted them to. Henry had an affair with Midas’s mother, but that was never really explored. Ida’s family had ties to Midas’s father, who was also beginning to turn into glass when he committed suicide. The thing that turned people to glass was never even seen, nor were the moth-winged bulls ever explained.
It had some beautiful prose, though, which gained it at least one star.. Here’s an example.
“Her toes were pure glass. Smooth, clear, shining glass. Glinting crescents of light edged each toenail and each crease between the joints of each digit. Seen through her toes, the silver spots on the bed sheet diffused into metallic vapors. The ball of her foot was glass too, but murkier, losing its transparency in a gradient until, near her ankle, it reached skin: matte and flesh toned like any other.”
However, the characters were just plain weird to me. I was never able to really get a read on them emotionally, so their responses to everything just didn’t make sense to me. They kept hunting for a way to heal Ida’s problem, even knowing that nothing had worked and she had very little time. They’d also met like a week before, and yet they were completely “in love” despite barely knowing one another. Most of the time, I felt like Midas never really talked to other people. He talked to his one friend and his daughter, but that was it.
I also really hated the creepy obsession that led to Ida’s caretaker attempting to rape her, but then suddenly they trusted him again later?
When she inevitably turned entirely to glass, Midas just tips her into the ocean. No ceremony, completely alone, just into the ocean she went. Then he decided that it was finally time for him to get off his ass and leave the island he’d always lived on. Man, you guys know how much I love female characters dying and inspiring men to get off their asses.
The Girl with Glass Feet could have been really good, but it just really didn’t work for me at all. The prose and wanting to know how they dealt with her death were the only things that kept me going to the end. When I finally got there, I was extremely disappointed. That’s what led me to my two star rating for this novel.