cover image The Glass Town Game

The Glass Town Game

Catherynne M. Valente. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (544p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7696-6

Valente (Radiance) delivers a linguistically dazzling novel that draws on the Brontë siblings’ real-life childhood writings about Glass Town, an invented land where they escaped the difficulties of their lives. Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell are grieving the deaths of two older sisters and dreading the “Beastliest Day” when Charlotte and Emily are forced to go off to school. As Branwell and Anne accompany them to the carriage, a detour to the local train station leads them to escape to Glass Town, which turns out to be even wilder and more bizarre than they ever imagined. “Don’t worry, Em,” Charlotte reassures her sister. “We’re only in an insane, upside-down world populated by our toys, our stories, and Napoleon riding a giant chicken on fire. Nothing so bad as School.” The plot picks up after Anne and Branwell get kidnapped, but the story’s real delights come from the wit and cleverness woven into every description and conversation, as well as the sharp insights Valente brings to the children’s insecurities, longings, and hidden desires, which burst to the surface in this magical and perilous world. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)