Cover Image: House of Glass Hearts

House of Glass Hearts

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Member Reviews

This was an incredibly intriguing read with the most amazing magical realism arc!! I would tell everyone to read it!!
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Maera and her ammi never talk about the Past, a place where they’ve banished their family’s heartache and grief forever. They especially never mention the night Maera’s older brother Asad disappeared from her naana’s house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather’s past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family’s secrets—the monsters that live inside her grandfather’s mysterious house of glass.
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2.5 stars.

I wanted to like this book so much more. A beautiful cover, an intriguing premise, and a diverse cast of characters...I was very much looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I didn't get what I had expected. Instead, this felt like two very different pieces of literature wedged together.

There are two POVs and a dual timeline that weave together to create the full narrative. The first POV is in the present with a folklore background, a fantasy feel, and a writing style that I would place in the middle grade range. The second POV is in the past, is heavily historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, and is written in a way that borders between YA and adult. This odd dichotomy made for a book that felt awkward.

The first POV was the one that caused me the most issues. I love middle grade reads, so the age level feel wasn't a problem for me. Instead, the writing here didn't feel as carefully crafted and often felt like it jumped around without giving transitions or anchoring the story. The characters were a bit gauzy and didn't really get enough development. They were also stated to be teenaged characters, but acted more like the middle grade set. The fantasy element was interesting and I loved the folklore inclusion, but these pieces lost a bit of their logic and just didn't work for me.

The second POV I loved. Seriously. If this book had been written as a historical fiction with some fantasy elements and followed the second POV storyline for a longer period of time with the same writing style throughout it would have been at least a 4-star read for me. These sections felt much more genuine. There was a solid atmosphere, better characters, and a great emotional component. There still were gaps in the logic and a lack of full explanation when it came to the fantastical elements, but I definitely felt more interested in these pieces and had much more of a connection with the characters. A full fleshing out of this plot line would have been magical.

There is definitely a good sense of imagination to the narrative. There is some great storytelling talent there and I think with some work on the writing and consistency to the feel of the narrative, there could be some great works from this author in the future. Unfortunately, this debut piece just didn't shine as much as I had hoped.

* Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *
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While this wasn't as issue either the story per se, the formatting for this arc was near impossible to read. It would load and unload repeatedly, switch between pages wthout prompting, and if closed temporarily, wouldn't hold the spot that you left off and would instead struggle to load from ththe beginning again.
The story I found kind of boring, I didn't connect with any of the characters.
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I really do not have enough or the right words to explain how this book makes me feel. It was interesting for me to read a book set in my homeland and for it to be written by a Pakistani author as well. That’s already bonus points from me. It’s a thriller and those are weakness! The book is a little difficult to get into because of the writing style but the plot is very well developed and intriguing and has to hope that you just need to find out more. It’s fantastic and honestly you don’t see things coming!
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House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui was a good book, but it did not meet my expectations. Adore the South Asian representation.
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I am not sure how I felt about this story. I requested for this based off the blurb and setting but it fell short for me. I loved the creativity and plot of the story but I felt that the writing didn’t flow very well.

This story starts off with Maera and her family staying at their grandfather’s house in Karachi while visiting, but Asad, her older brother suddenly vanished one night with no clues on his disappearance. This left Maera and her mother very heartbroken as they returned back to the US. When Maera’s grandfather passed away ten years later, his greenhouse mysteriously appeared in her backyard which brings up painful memories for Maera. Together with her cousin Jimmy, her best friend Sara and her neighbour Rob, they decide to solve Asad’s mystery once and for all using a diary left behind by her grandfather. What awaits them in the greenhouse?

This was told in alternate timelines between Maera’s present and her grandfather’s past, switching between colonial India and the historical horrors during the Indian partition in 1947. The story is mixed with history and magical realism packed in a young adult fiction. I definitely loved the history part of the story which was pretty eye opening for me and I also love the magical entity in this! Ever heard of a churail? It is very similar to a Pontianak in the Malay folklore!

I preferred the historical narrative much more! it was well written and it really sucked me into the setting. The present timeline pales in comparison unfortunately. There wasn’t much character development and it seems that Maera’s trauma is downplayed. Even though the plot was good, there are also many loopholes which left me confused.

The plot is there but the writing can be improved. Thank you Netgalley and Yali Books for the arc.
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so i read this a while ago
but completely forgot about netgalley
BUT IT WAS JUST SO COOL and creative
and also the cover is just stunning
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I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for this review

After her grandpa's death in Pakistan, his greenhouse appears in Maera's backyard -- in America. House of Glass Hearts follows a dual narrative of Maera in present day and her grandpa in 1947 India.

If I'm being completely honest, I didn't care for Maera's chapters. There was nothing wrong with them per se, but they just didn't appeal to me. What I did absolutely love however, were the 1947 chapters.

My family made the opposite trip (from Pakistan to India) and learning the history from both sides really means a lot to me.

I also really enjoyed how there were words in Urdu/Hindi that the author chose to never explain. I thought this added authenticity and made the book nicer to read. Words like "Churail" don't really feel like they have an English translation y'know? Like yes, it means witch, but churail's just paints a different picture in your mind.

Overall, this was a decent enough book. I appreciate all that I learned and would love to read more of the author's work if they ever write about the Indo-Pak border split again.
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this book kind of let me down. it felt rushed, the pacing was off, and though it touched on a lot of really difficult topics, it felt like there was a lot left unsaid. there was just a lot of things that could've been done better and unfortunately, this wasn't really for me.
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This is magical. This is historical. This is a blend of the lore and the lost. When Maera's grandfather dies, his greenhouse suddenly appears in her backyard and brings back memories of a dreadful past that took away her brother. Now, when this past that was never talked about physically manifests itself, Maera decides to find her missing brother—ten years after he had vanished overnight in the same greenhouse during a family trip to Karachi, Pakistan. And she hopes her late grandfather's diary would have answers. With the aid of her cousin Jimmy, friend Sara, and neighbor Rob, Maera enters the greenhouse and encounters a churail in the lush jungle.

Told in alternate timelines, switching between colonial India and present-day America, this debut authentically paints the historical horrors before and immediately after India's independence. The region's pain during WWII and the Partition seeps through a narration that not only discusses interreligious tensions, demands for division, and sacrifices during the freedom struggle, but also deals with intergenerational trauma and grief. It lets Indian & Pakistani folklore soak the present-day quest with a demonic spirit, a churail, plausibly acting as an embodiment of the horrors that the other simultaneous narrative unravels.

Rightly said to be Pan's Labyrinth meets The Night Diary, this genre-bending story brings in the darkness and thrill of a missing brother, an enchanting greenhouse, and an ominous fantastical creature, while unfolding a past of sadness that generations of the subcontinent wish was only of happiness for the freedom from years of British colonization. There's also a dash of Stranger Things but unfortunately, the voice of the characters—who are young adults but read tweens—doesn't let one fully engage with the massive cast and the rushed writing somehow slows down the speculative plot that centers the present-day arc.

Regardless of the disappointing overall reading experience, the historical elements are impactful and the ending doesn't fail to satiate. It's clear that this book might not be for everyone because it doesn't fit one box: it's not just a historical fiction, it's not just a fantasy; it's not just magical realism, it's not just an adventure. It's strengths carry the weight of glass hearts and it's few weaknesses surprisingly don't break them.
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This has such an intriguing synopsis, but it is mostly disappointing. The writing in this debut is very middle school side of young adult.

I know nearly nothing about Partition or about colonized India fighting in WWII for the British, so the historical aspects were the best, including the authors note at the end. However, the dialogue and the actions people take, especially in the modern timeline, left me feeling like an impartial observer of a movie I missed part of.
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Unfortunately I did not finish the book as felt it wasn't for me. 

I was a bit confused at times and felt like the story was a bit of a slow burner. 

I cant really comment anymore as I didn't finish it however I'm sure this book suits a lot of other people. 

Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review it.
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Loved it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read a digital arc in exchange for my feedback.
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The book unravels two simultaneous narratives; Maera in the present day, taking on a desperate hunt to find her missing brother, and the story of Maera’s grandfather in pre-Independence India.
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To be honest, I had to DNF this book halfway in for a variety of reasons.

Maera’s visiting family in Pakistan when her older brother enters a greenhouse in their backyard and disappears. Maera’s family comes back to the US and the past is never spoken of again until her grandfather dies. All of a sudden, the greenhouse appears in their backyard in the US, and the adults don’t seem to see it or acknowledge when the kids talk about it. A diary from the grandfather is also planted in her bedroom, and her cousin arrives and somehow has a necklace with the key magically fitting into the diary and opening it. And eventually the kids figure out how to get into the greenhouse, which is basically just begging it until it opens. 

Intersecting with this modern story are random entries from the diary of the grandfather, who describes how he lived through the partition of India and World War II. This part is actually where it got interesting and I was engaged in the story until all of a sudden, these magical creatures called Churlain appear. These creatures are dead woman who had a bitter, sad life and died, thus reincarnated into these weird scary horselike creatures that suck out the souls of men. This is where I stopped.

The book was not well written at all, unfortunately. Plot holes were numerous, characters did random things that made no sense like stay in their grandmothers house serving her when he could just leave or collecting hair from her mothers hair brush for no apparent reason. And the magical realism was just not convincing at all.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found this book odd. It wasn’t a fantasy book nor was it a contemporary book- it was a real book in our modern world with Magical additions that just completely threw me off.

I actually felt like the book could’ve stood on its own without the realism and been a story about the partition of India and how it affected Muslims. I wanted to learn more about this but never got that far, unfortunately.

Not to mention, the Muslim rep in the book is subpar, with the main character un-interested in anything Islamic such as praying/reading Quran. 

Maybe its just me, but I couldn’t finish it.
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Oh boy… This book was AMAZING. I will definitely look more into the author and their books as I loved this one. The cover, title and story (most impressive of all) was amazing!!
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I picked this book because I thought the plot was unique in a time where I was reading a lot of same the type of story with every book. Unfortunately, I had to DNF this book. I couldn’t get a grasp on the fantasy elements of the story for some reason. Maybe it was the writing style, something just felt flat for me. However, I would like to come back to this book in the future, I like books that flip between the past and the present. I hope to give this book another chance someday.
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⭐⭐⭐ -- overall
⭐ -- for the present chapters
⭐⭐⭐⭐ -- for the past chapters

I wanted to like this one more than I did! It had such a creative and unique plot, but the writing just wasn't there to do it justice. The weakest part of the narrative was the present time period. The characters felt one dimensional, and I had a difficult time connecting with any of them. That said, the past timeline about India's part in WW2, and their immigration into Pakistan, was by far the best part of this book. The writing was much better. The characters more developed. I wish the entire book had taken place in the past. 🤷🏻‍♀️

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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3/5 stars
Recommended for people who like: multiple POVs, magic, magical realism, fantasy, SE Asian stories

This review has been posted to Goodreads and my bookstagram as of 11/24, has been posted to my book review blog as of 12/15.

Saddiqui does a good job describing the scenery and events that take place in this book. I felt like I was in the scenes with the characters, the good and the bad. The greenhouse itself was particularly intriguing and I was quite curious about it. Likewise, the events that take place in the past were captivating.

I’d heard of the Partition but didn’t really know a lot about it, so I was pretty invested in the grandfather’s chapters. I do think I would’ve liked some additional information leading up to the Partition itself. We get a lot of information about how the grandfather went searching for his father during WWII, but we don’t get a lot about the events leading up to the Partition, just the event itself. I wanted to hear/see more about the tension and changes that led up to the violence and how that impacted the grandfather and his family.

In present-day, I feel that things got resolved fairly quickly. Things got messy during the adventures into the greenhouse, and I feel the implications of this don’t really get addressed. Much like with the past, I also feel like we don’t really see a lot of the impacts of things in present-day. Sure, we see that Maera’s mother is closed-off due to Asad’s disappearance, but other than some lines about how it makes Maera feel stifled, I didn’t really get a good grasp about the other ways this impacted the family.

Maera herself was pretty rash and selfish, which can make for an interesting MC. However, she really just comes across as exactly that. I liked her at first but as the story went on it got harder to like her due it her actions. She also doesn’t really listen to anyone if it doesn’t fit exactly what she wants. While she obviously desperately wants her brother back, there are times when it’s prudent to sit back and consider other perspectives and gasp you might learn something.

The other characters mostly felt like stand-ins to help move the story along rather than actual characters. Sarah, Jimmy, and Rob don’t add a ton to the story other than to create tension with Maera. The mothers are the only two characters who really feel like actual people, but we don’t get to see a ton of them. I would’ve liked to see more of their interactions with one another and the other characters.

Saddiqui did a better job with the characters in the past, I think. Those characters felt real. I was more invested in them than in the present-day characters.

It was interesting seeing how the grandfather grew into a more adult person over time and how the loss of his father changed the family. However, I do still feel like things are left out of his story. For instance, it’s said that following his father tk war changed him....but he didn’t really follow him to war. Also, he is said to be this horrible monster but we never see this in the story or really even hear anyone mention evidence of it, so it isn’t believable.

I liked Shah Jehan’s character. She was interesting and determined, and I wish we got to see more of her. She makes a lot of good points in the book and it would’ve been nice to have more than two or three chapters from her perspective.

Overall, I feel pretty neutral about the book. There are good parts, but a lot of the characters feel flat and I think some pertinent information either isn’t delivered well or is left out. I did feel there were some gaps in the narrative where things would suddenly be there but when they happened/arrived wasn’t mentioned.
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