Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead
I...I don't know what I was expecting. It certainly wasn't this. I knew
nothing about this book before picking it up. It turned up on one of my
lists, and I ordered it from the library, and eventually read it.
at times, it felt like it was written just for me. It fit so neatly
into things I love, writing styles I enjoy, and tales that have personal
resonance. Oh yes, and tears. There were tears.
It has the feel
of a fairy tale crossed with a hint of horror. Creepiness lurked around
the edges of the story, never overt, never overdone. I suppose the best
fairy tales have that as well - the original ones can have an ominous
The writing was beautiful, and I enjoyed every word. They created mood and character so effectively and enchantingly.
lives on St. Hauda's, a small island where odd things happen all the
time, but no one ever talks about them. He sees the world through a
Ida returns to St. Hauda's after having vacationed
there because, well, because her feet are turning into glass, and she
hopes to find a cure. She stays with a friend of her mother's, a man who
loved her mother, and now is becoming obsessed with Ida herself.
and Midas' lives have strange parallels, at least so it appears at the
beginning, although as the story unfolds, what seem like mirror images
turn out to be quite different, after all.
As the glass starts
to creep up Ida's legs, Midas and Ida look for a cure, if
they can find a connection, if they can be together even under the
deadline Ida's affliction creates. The glass is never explained, and it
doesn't need to be. Neither are the tiny creatures Henry Fuwa takes are
of, nor the creature that turns everything that meets its eye pure
white. They simply are part of St. Hauda.
The Girl with the Glass Feet
is about seeing, and ways of mediating seeing. Of knowing and being
known. Of repeating the patterns of the past, and that what you remember
may not be the whole story.
it is about loss. Ida's affliction turns out, in the end to be
irrevocable, and the time of being together she and Midas manage to
snatch before the end is fleeting and bittersweet. Where it laid me low
was at the end, as the glass stops merely creeping across her body and
starts to move so fast it can be seen, turning Ida into glass entirely
in Midas' arms. In this unnatural death I heard echoes of my father's
death, of the days when the minutes moved slowly and we sat vigil beside
his bed, and of the days when things moved far too quickly, when there wasn't enough time to even take in what was happening, let alone know how
to react. Fast or slow, death comes, and this book evoked such strong
memories of those days that I sat and wept.
It was also that
moment of death, that moment that is so brief and so long, when it is
both apparent what has happened, and you can't tell exactly when it
happened. It's not always sharp and easy to tell. What was the moment
when life was extinguished? Was it this one or the one before? Has it
happened yet, or is it still happening?
had never heard of Ali Shaw before. I hope to read more of his books,
and I hope they live up to this first effort that has been haunting me