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The Glass Town Game

Review

The Glass Town Game

Written by Catherynne M. Valente with illustrations by Rebecca Green.

THE GLASS TOWN GAME by Catherynne M. Valente is a story about four very creative children. They live in a small village in the northern area of England with their father, their aunt Elizabeth and their housekeeper, Tabitha. They have no mother because she died. But in a way, they have two mothers --- their aunt Elizabeth and Tabitha. Often it is lonely and like so many children, they must find ways to pass their time and stretch their imaginations.

One day, their father brings home a set of wooden soldiers for Branwell, the younger brother. These little soldiers are just the thing that spurs their active imaginations into action. And so the little books they’ve been tirelessly writing about an imaginary place called Glass Town are brought to life as Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell begin weaving elaborate stories with their favorite soldiers.

"With a touch of Oz, a sprinkle of Wonderland and a dash of Narnia, Valente once again proves herself the mistress of fantasy writing."

Their father, a stern and anxious man, wants his girls to have the best education and decides they must be sent to school. Not just any school, mind you, but the dreaded Cowan Bridge Boarding School where their older sisters Maria and Elizabeth became ill and died. Devastated, the girls have no choice but to follow his wishes. Branwell, the only son, is allowed to stay home to be tutored by his father. He agrees to escort his older sisters to the train station and off they go. 

Things do not go as expected and somehow all four of the children find themselves riding a train called “Glass Town Royal Express, Main Line - South Angrien Loop.” This is the beginning of a most unexpected and glorious adventure. Can this really be happening? And if it is, how did it happen?

In Glass Town --- the very place they invented, they meet all sorts of fabulous characters like Lord Byron, Lord Wellington and Napoleon…but Glass Town is not just beautiful, not just full of fantasy and magical creatures --- it turns out to be a real battleground. Battles are being fought and people are dying (no one is supposed to really die in Glass Town). Delight is mixed with fear as each of the children meets the very soldiers they created. If this is a dream then it’s pretty darn fabulous but not really fabulous when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped. When did all this fun turn into scary and foreboding?

Valente has created a thrilling and magical story based upon the famous Bronte siblings. Stretching truths here and there, she takes us into their imaginative worlds with ease. With the skill of the gifted writer that she is, Valente subtly intersperses lines from Bronte classics like Charlotte’s JANE EYRE, Emily’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Anne’s AGNES GREY. Charlotte’s strong personality is here, along with Emily’s stubborn nature, Anne’s quiet shyness and Branwell’s tense insecurities. Bronte fans will be delighted --- but more importantly, this book stands perfectly on its own. With a touch of Oz, a sprinkle of Wonderland and a dash of Narnia, Valente once again proves herself the mistress of fantasy writing.

Outstanding illustrations by artist Rebecca (Becca) Green add just the right touch of whimsy. She perfectly captures the Bronte personalities along with the irresistible magic of THE GLASS TOWN GAME.

Put this book on your “to read” shelf for sure…pull up a chair and get ready to be delighted.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on October 17, 2017

The Glass Town Game
Written by Catherynne M. Valente with illustrations by Rebecca Green.