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The Glass Casket Hardcover – February 11, 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—Rowan and Tom are best friends, having grown up together in the village of Nag's End. When five of the King's men are found brutally murdered, the townspeople investigate but find more questions than answers. Rowan's cousin, Fiona Eira, shows up at the village, attracting Tom's eye before she is found with her heart torn out. Her body is encased in a glass casket by her grieving father, and more gruesome killings follow. Tom and Rowan, along with most of the villagers, are desperate to find answers. Who or what is to blame? Could the murders be related to magic, witches, wolves, or ghosts? Templeman does a creepy (and bloody) job of describing the crimes and their culprit, but gives few details about a visiting duke, his ward, and most of the villagers. Since the story is set in a fantastical past, when few girls are taught to read and candles provide light, the occasional use of contemporary phrases sound out of place. Templeman includes nods to both folklore and classic literature in this atmospheric tale.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

From Booklist

Templeman pulls a 180 from her incisive contemporary debut, The Little Woods (2012), with a fantasy involving witches, magic, and monsters. Rowan’s hometown of Nag’s End is a sleepy mountain village until the arrival of a number of unexpected visitors: a cadre of royal guards, who are mysteriously massacred; a duke who comes to investigate the murders; and Rowan’s cousin, Fiona, a beautiful young woman trapped by a terrorizing guardian. And there is a thing in the woods—a big thing—ripping people to pieces. Though familiar fantasy tropes are present, Templeman conjures her own strange spell, creating a world where contemporary dialog fits comfortably within a medieval context, and where a hanging sense of dread is more narratively potent than any one evil element. The story doesn’t always fire, but, in fact, Templeman is at her best when leaving plot behind, as when one character’s death acts as a sort of forbidden fruit leading to unleashed sexual passion—it’s challenging, dizzying material. The legion of Maggie Stiefvater fans out there ought to look this way. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385743459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385743457
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,366,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Evie Seo TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Fantasy is a genre that doesn't always work for me. If the world-and-character-building aren't thorough enough - or, in some cases, if they're so detailed, they end up being overwhelming - I probably won't enjoy it. If the writing is too descriptive and too wordy - or if it's too plain and straightforward - I won't be able to get fully immersed in the story. Then there's also the pacing, the setting, the fantastic elements such as magic or supernatural creatures, and of course, the plot line itself. So many things that could go wrong! That being said, I am thrilled to report that The Glass Casket didn't miss a single mark! McCormick Templeman's latest novel is the perfect combination of a tragic love story and a gorgeously imagined, skilfully woven, often times completely shocking fantasy tale, sprinkled with elements of horror and macabre. I absolutely loved it and it's definitely one of my top five favorite books I've read this month.

"One bleak morning in the eye of winter, five horses and five riders thundered into the remote mountain village of Nag's End. Without ceremony or respect for local custom, they charged through the square and up the steep alpine trail that lay just beyond. Hazarding the rocky terrain, they wove their way between snow-shrouded pines, climbing ever until they reached the icy plateau of Beggar's Drift - a place, it was said, that the Goddess had forsaken."

With these words, starts the magical tale of love and sacrifice, family secrets and dark prophecies, deception and revenge.

The Glass Casket had me glued to its pages from the opening lines.
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Summary:
Rowan Rose lives in a small village where girls aren't taught to read, candlelight is used as the only lights, and superstitions run wild. It's a predictable world until five of the King's men are found brutally murdered. Then, Fiona Eira, a long lost cousin of Rowan's shows up in town. She's beautiful and mysterious and Roman's best friend Tom falls in love with her instantly. The only problem is that death has shown up in the village and Fiona is another victim. Her heart is torn out and she is placed inside a glass casket. Tragedy strikes and the town searches for what might have brought down these horrors to their village.

My thoughts:
Honestly, the plot and mystery within this novel is very well down. I did not guess what the ending would be until more than halfway through the novel. Even then, I was still a little unsure. The horror and blood along with each murder is written about with exquisite detail. Templeman has done a very good job of pulling you into the story itself. Unfortunately, the characters are not done very well. I never felt like I really got to know any of them. They are definitely surface characters. You get to know most of the village, but never really like anyone. Plus, the point of view changes rather quickly, so you don't even stick with someone to really follow them. To me it felt like characters in a mediocre play where you anticipate the actor is going to bring them to life for you.I desperately wanted a character to connect with because the mystery was done so well.
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What an exciting, thrilling read! It kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. The beginning was a flurry of confusion as I was introduced to not only the world and its rules, but also nearly every village resident. I finally decided to plow through, and I'm glad that I did because the town elders and their titles weren't really important. The writing was vivid and brought to mind images of a beautiful frozen landscape.

The village folks were written so well they could have stepped into the pages from any small community. There are always those in the bunch who are revered, those who are afraid of change, those that follow blindly, etc. Templeman writes with a clarity on how villages and their members work.

I didn't really buy the insta-love for one couple. They meet and bam they want to spend eternity together. It was never explained why they felt like they had known each other before. I wanted an explanation for why this connection ran so deep and was instantaneous and some other connections as well, not just the boy-girl kind.

I felt like the answer to the mystery was well thought out, and that all of the pieces fit together in the end. There was such a delicious build to the finale, that I felt the finale needed to be drawn out a little bit. It was over within a chapter or two. I really enjoyed not knowing what was coming. I sort of had my suspicions, but I just wasn't certain. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a little bit of horror mixed with a little bit of fantasy mixed with a whole lot of mystery. There are some gory details when describing victims.

I would love to see more of this world in other books. I will also be checking out more works by this author.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked this novel up thinking it would be a dark retelling of a fairy tale, perhaps Snow White. Well... that's not wrong, exactly. It's not a retelling of a fairy tale as much as a sampler of themes from a wide variety of tales: Snow White, the similarly named but dissimilarly themed Snow White and Rose Red, Sleeping Beauty, and the currently popular storyline of teens in love with (sexy) monsters. It's definitely dark, dark as can be. In fact, I'd classify this as a horror story. Templeman's writing occasionally becomes a bit overblown and clunky, but she is very effective at being creepy. I'm a full grown adult and I had a bit of trouble getting to sleep after reading one of the more gruesome chapters.

Templeton deserves praise for avoiding a couple of the typical fairy-tale retelling traps. She doesn't get overly involved in the teen romance, or excessively wrapped up in describing tumultuous passions etc. The love triangle is there, but it stays a subplot. Secondly, she doesn't have any particular problem with killing off characters, even characters we like. This gives the book a very unpredictable feeling, and we the readers feel equally as out of control as Rowen does, with no idea who will be dispatched next or why. Thirdly, the twists are not terribly predictable. You definitely get a feel for where the book is going by the last few chapters, but there's never a time when it's blindingly obvious enough to be irritating. The ending feels appropriate and satisfactory.

On the other hand, there are some major flaws. Templeton has Rowen totally avoid the witches, who are portrayed as being completely and utterly kind and prosaic. She's afraid of them - but there's never an explanation for it.
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