Cover Image: The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass

The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass

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Member Reviews

An interesting concept but it didn’t quite deliver for me. I love the idea of witches ‘making’ beings out of other things, and that Eli is perhaps a little more human than the others. The world the story is set in is interesting and intriguing, but something about the story just fell a little flat. I was pleased to see the inclusion of LGBTQ characters in a very matter-of-fact way.
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This is a debut queer fantasy novel that features a unique protagonist, a girl who is literally made up of the titular elements of hawthorn and glass! Eli was created by Circinae, a harsh indifferent witch who raised her out of callous self-interest to serve as an assassin and raise her standing with the Coven. When Eli is stranded in the human world after a mission goes wrong, she reluctantly teams up with a couple of humans in order to return to her home in the magical City of Eyes. Of course nothing ever goes according to plan, and Eli is quickly swept up in a dangerous adventure which leads her to explore new friendships, old heartaches, conflicted loyalties and what she truly stands for. 

The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass has a lot of exciting elements; the idea magical world overlaid over our mundane human world with witches running secret missions is intriguing and the teenage assassin trope is very popular so this is sure to get a lot of attention. The main strength of this novel is the diversity on show with all its major characters being queer, plus Cam is East Asian and Tav is a nonbinary Black person. Anyone who is in search of books with POC and LGBT+ representation will be well-satisfied. The author’s note at the beginning is heartfelt and moving, and I applaud their aim to publish a novel that is inclusive and helps people of different backgrounds to feel seen. 

It’s so important to have diverse representation and I’m especially drawn to queer speculative fiction where the character’s is incidental to their story arc, so this should have been a hit. Unfortunately the fact that this is a debut novel was inescapable because it felt like the author had bitten off more than they could chew. The characters are the best part of the story, and even that is imperfectly pulled off – for instance, Eli’s character is meant to be this perfect assassin who is feted by the Coven as a ‘superior weapon’ and the best of the best, but we rarely see these abilities in action. Eli talks the talk, but in action scenes, it’s often the feeble humans who are protecting her! 

Tav and Cam are fascinating characters, but sadly they are given hardly any backstory or depth, so while they endear themselves to the reader on the basis of charm and banter, there’s nothing to grasp onto when you start to ponder their goals and motivations. We have no idea what’s actually driving them to blindly embark on a dangerous journey with no clear plan and zero preparation. Although it’s a mystery to Eli for half of the book, the blurb gives away that their mission in the City of Eyes is to steal the Heart of the Coven, but it’s never explained to the reader just what the Heart IS or how it can be used to achieve whatever it is they want. And even once all the characters are on board with this plan, there’s still no discussion of how to successfully abscond with what is clearly the most prized possession of the Coven and certain to be securely guarded. 

Which leads onto the next issue which is the structural weakness of this story – there’s so many interesting ideas, but they don’t coalesce into a coherent whole and instead the book has an identity crisis. If it’s meant to be an adventure story, it lacks the fast-paced action because the frequent flashbacks slow the pace to a crawl in some parts as we jump back in time to a scene in Eli’s childhood or a moment with her former best friend/ex-girlfriend. If it’s meant to be a heist story, half the fun of those is seeing our heroes bond over planning the details of the heist in question rather than skipping past all that. And the villains are clearly meant to be the Coven, but we’re never even properly introduced to them! So how can we know what our intrepid heroes are facing? So we end up with a bunch of random sub-plots that meander aimlessly towards a confusing finale rather than a build-up of tension and excitement over a defined conflict with understandable stakes. 

The shaky world-building means that it’s difficult for the reader to lose themselves in the delightful premise of witches, ghosts and assassins because the details are so thinly sketched that it leads to confusion and apathy. Who are the creepy kids in the Children’s Lair? Are they born from witches or a separate group? How do the Labyrinth, the Maze and the Lair fit into the City of Eyes? And a few times, Eli is able to magically transport from one point to another, except for when it’s necessary for the plot that she is stranded somewhere, but we aren’t given a reason why this happens. There are no rules and nothing has meaning, which makes it hard to invest in the narrative. 

The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass has a lot of potential, but flounders in the execution. Worth checking out for its diverse characters and unique, striking concepts, but hopefully the sequel spends more time developing the other main characters and pulling together a more coherent storyline.
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This was such a magical book! The story and characters and world felt like a fairytale. This is the perfect woodland fantasy YA read.
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The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass is the story about a teenage girl, or rather a teenage witches' creation.  It follows her through her two worlds and the people she meets.  It was a slow starter for me and then kind of picked up halfway through, unfortunately, it went off the rails for me in the last section.  I really could not tell you what was going on.  The characters were ok,  the setting was bizarre but ok as well.  It kind of jumped all over the place.  I am sure this will make for a great read for someone into YA fantasy that has a bit more patience than me.  Great idea but I was a bit too confused in the end.
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A really interesting book, I loved the fact there were so many LGBTQ the book felt so accepting and for this reason, alone I would recommend it. It is so wholesome for a book based around an assassin.

I was a little confused at the end I wasn't totally sure what was happening all the time but I figured it out in the end!
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Eli is a girl of hawthorn and glass. Literally. Her body consists of other substances as well but she’s a made-thing. She’s the perfect assassin, created by a witch to kill ghosts.

“Eventually she would turn back into the parts the witch had used to make her - a girl stitched together out of beetle shells and cranberries and a witch’s greed.”

Eli and her seven blades have never failed before but something goes wrong this time in the City of Ghosts, and she’s terrified of being unmade.

Seanan McGuire says ‘The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass’ is a “unique, gripping, engaging book by a voice that the genre has been waiting for.” Anyone who knows me knows Seanan is my favourite author so if they enjoyed it, then logic says I will as well. I loved the concept and this series has so much potential. Amongst other goodies, there’s magic, witches and a labyrinth. 

“What’s the magic word?”
“I was trained to kill?”
“Good enough for me.”

You know those photomosaic jigsaw puzzles where each piece is its own tiny picture, but when you finish the puzzle you see the big picture? That’s the image I get when I think about the world building in this book, except the big picture isn’t complete. It’s like I was given a bunch of beautiful, strange little pictures, some that read like poetry. However, I didn’t get enough of them to form an overall picture. 

I can see part of the Labyrinth, part of the library and the door of Circinae’s house but I can’t imagine the City of Eyes as a whole. I also couldn’t get a clear picture of what Kite looked like.

I wanted to delve deeper into the history of the City of Eyes. Eli, as a made-thing, wasn’t privy to that information herself so it made sense for the reader to go in blind. We learn a small amount of background information when Eli does. If I’d either been given a history lesson earlier or had the opportunity to interact with more of the Coven, I‘m certain I would have been more invested in the story. 

As it was, for most of the book, the Coven’s motivation was unknown. Other than some limited interaction with Circinae, the adult inhabitants of this world remained fairly mysterious. Not an alluring kind of mysterious, though. It was more of an ‘I don’t know who these characters are’ mystery. There were also some scenes where I still don’t really know what happened. 

I’m pretty sure I stumbled into a couple of plot holes although, to be fair, there is a forthcoming sequel that could fill them. I’d be interested to see how the story concludes in ‘The Boi of Feather and Steel’.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the opportunity to read this book.
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This book did not do it for me. The characters were okay, but the plot was really convoluted and boring. There was almost no world building so it made the conflict really confusing. There was no back story and no explanation for anything, so stuff would happen, but it never made sense. There were weird flashbacks that didn't need to be in the book as they did absolutely nothing for the story. By the end the plot was so weird and convoluted that I just didn't care by the end.
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Thank you Netgalley for the e-arc. This was such a fun book . It was fast paced and the plot was smoothly executed. The characters were a little underdeveloped but I’m excited to read more after that ending
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What a shame that beautiful cover didn't match the contents.

I tried to like this book. I really did. I mean, the cover is gorgeous, the premise is cool. At first glance, it seemed like a shoo-in for a stellar book that might even gain a place on my favourites shelf. The reality, unfortunately, is rather different from my expectations.

The worldbuilding is messy. That's my biggest issue. In a story about witches and two different worlds both technically in the same one where the entire plot essentially revolves around this, clear and concise worldbuilding is a necessity. But in The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass, I was really just confused. There was not enough exposition, explanation, or detail given for me to be anything other than a jumble of confusion the entire novel. It seemed like Jerreat-Poole had an idea, knew it was a good one, but then got caught up in writing it instead of developing it. Both are important, but one without the other is a recipe for disaster, and in this book there's a considerable lack of development as far as the worldbuilding goes.

The characters were well enough, I suppose. Certainly nothing special or particularly memorable. I had no particular will to care about them or their character arcs throughout. They have no essence, no root, no backstory or memorable personality or anything at all to make me attached.

All together, I didn't really enjoy this. It was a pleasant enough read if I wasn't thinking about it, because the moment I did I realized that I had no clue what was even happening due to the significant lack of exposition. By 1/2 through, it was impossible to ignore the fact that I knew nothing about anything and I spend the rest of the book scratching my head as I tried to make sense of anything. Two stars for Jerreat-Poole's writing style (they need work in the technical department, but their prose is lovely), the premise, the diversity, and the cover.

Recommended to any fans of fantasy who are much smarter than I am. Maybe you'll be able to fill in the blanks.

Kudos for the stellar LGBTQ+ rep though! It's wonderful to see an enby author writing an enby character.
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I tried getting into this book but I just couldn’t. I don’t know if it was the formatting or just the fact that I’ve read better fantasy novels lately. However I just couldn’t seem to dive in like I should have.
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I really enjoyed this book. The setting was marvelous, I really liked the atmosphere, the fairy-tale creepiness. I enjoyed the politics and the intrigue. And Eli is such a unique main character, I enjoyed being in their head.
But what I liked the most was the writing. The style was so vivid and engaging.
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Characters are amazing but the world building and plot are lacking. 

This feels to me like all of the notes and ideas for this story were somehow squished in there. I found myself pulled out of the story so many times because of something happening that needed a little more build up or explanation. 

It has the beautiful prose but lacks direction to make that prose work in favor of the book. 

Overall the author has potential, but this book wasn't my favorite  

Thank you to Netgalley for an advance copy.
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I'm confused while reading this book. I hot hyped when I saw this available for request but as soon as I read it, i'm totally confused. It has more potential if the story was designed as more fantastical and badass. It lacks some fantasy vibe, though there are still scene quite worth reading. Best to improve and enhance more on characterization and plot.
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The beautiful cover caught my eye and then the synopsis was very intriguing as I could almost imagine a Frankenstein type character. Eli is a construct, a thing, a tool and an assassin but Eli is capable of so much more and this is her story. There is without doubt a fairly good representation of LGBTQ+ here but it’s the journey that Eli takes from being proud to just serve to realising that she deserves answers that really pulls the reader along. When sent by the Witch who created her to kill a Ghost in the Human realm everything goes wrong and Eli fears that if it’s discovered she will be unmade. So when yet again an assignment turns out to be a setup Eli discovers that her purpose isn’t quite what she thought it was.
I won’t lie as much as I enjoyed much of this book there are parts that felt confused and it was as if the author was trying too hard to bring metaphysical elements in play. The actual interactions between Eli, Tav and Cam made it feel relevant but when it came to her interacting with the two young Witches that she’s grown up with the prose just got too flowery and I found it difficult to understand why Eli would trust them. The actual explanation as to just why Eli is sent after Ghosts was just too preposterous for me unfortunately and that meant the ending was very unsatisfactory. So in conclusion I can say it has good ideas, I liked the main character but to me it occasionally went off at a tangent that was just too muddled. 
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
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Thank you NetGalley for the eArc!
This book sounded so good but at 60% it started to get boring, it didn't go nowhere,  it's such a shame because I had really high hopes for it.
Maybe it was just for me but h fortunately it didn't got me into it as I was hoping.
3☆
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Thank you to #netgalley for my arc copy to read and honestly review.

I was so excited to read this book. The description of a Golm type creature who starts to have it's own mind, hope's, and desires was very intriguing.

I found the story to be a bit jumpy. I understand fast paced is a thing but this was a bit to much. The dialogue wasnt very clear. It was at times hard to distinguish who was speaking and to whom. 

I also couldnt quite connect to the protagonist and while I found some of the side characters interesting none of them quite touched me like I'm used to when I'm reading a book.

A+ for LGBTQ representation
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I received a copy of this book to review from Netgalley. Thank you for the opportunity.
The concept behind this book is interesting with the girl assassin. The writing is sharp and punchy and the book is very fast paced. There is good representation within the characters. 
However, the world building was severly lacking to the point that the book was difficult to follow, especially in the beginning. The story lacks structure and a a clear trajectory. 
Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book.
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The file formatting made the book illegible. As that is no fault of the book's content, I'll rate a neutral 3 stars.
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[1]
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review. After reading the synopsis for The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass I was intrigued by the premise of a female assassin who was created for the sole purpose of hunting down ghosts for a coven of witches. At the same time I was also ambivalent towards the book due to the feedback from friends and other reviewers. Nevertheless, I was ready to give this one a try and form my own opinions.

To start, I think this book built up a lot of expectations right from the get go, and then failed to deliver them. I spent most of the book being confused as to what was going on and that didn't let up as it neared the end. Like most books, this one has many different characters that come together and unite under a common goal, becoming sort of like a family. The thing that stood out to me about these characters was their diverse identities and backgrounds. Almost every main character included was LGBT+, which is about the only positive thing I have to say about this book. Even then, the characters were severely underdeveloped and in need of stronger drives and motives. In terms of the writing, the style was a bit too choppy and read like one long tangent instead of a story that had a purpose and rhythm to it. It felt like I was trudging through a dense forest with no end in sight. The setting and the world-building were also severely lacking to me as a reader. The whole plot, which revolves around this group stealing the covens "heart" wasn't even revealed until more than halfway through. If it was that important, it should have been explained in more detail and the author should have laid the groundwork earlier on in the story. The initial concept sounded really interesting, but I just think this needed a bit more work in the areas I've highlighted above.
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DNF at 44%.  

I'll be honest.  I kept on picking up the book and starting over again because I wanted to like it so much.  But I had trouble finding the plot beyond the first chapter, which is strong and gripping. 

Eli is our main character and we aren't quite sure what she really is.  We know that she's a "made-thing" who's creator is a witch and that she is capable of moving between the human realm and the realm of the wtiches.   Advil works on her body, as well as coffee but she was stitched together from bugs and fruit.   She's an assassin with several blades and will kill a man within the first two pages of the book. 

Everytime I thought that I understood where the author was going, something confusing would come up and I'd have to reevaluate my thoughts.  Generally I'm okay with uncertainty as a reader, but this was too much.  The one thing that I was holding onto was the idea of identity and independence.  How can Eli move forward when she's a "made thing" that has no autonomy?  

What I really liked about the book was the evocative descriptions.  The author really worked hard to engage all the senses.  I could smell and touch parts of her descriptions, which was really cool.   

The cover is great.  I really do want to see more books LGBTQ+ high fantasy books but I'm just not certain this one will work for readers. 

Thanks to #Netgalley for the opportunity to try this book.
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