cover image A Face like Glass

A Face like Glass

Frances Hardinge. Amulet, $19.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2484-8

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. (May)