>Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
Tell Me More: McCormick Templeman’s second novel is a story straight from the tradition of Angela Carter and other magic realists. But while it is chilling and suspenseful in parts, it doesn’t quite manage to ground itself in an emotional core.
The narrative is the most interesting thing about The Glass Casket–it is unpredictable and dynamic, switching between points-of-view like a dragonfly on lily pads. The use of third-person points-of-view, both limited and omniscient, actually reminded me quite a bit of “A Company of Wolves.” This comparison did not end there, as both the novel and Carter’s short story share several similarities, though Glass Casket might have benefited from more pages.
As far as characterization, Templeman’s cast is lackluster, and events seem to just happen to them with very little proactive action on their parts. The cover copy focuses on Rowan Rose, and yet she was one of the weaker characters, at least development-wise. There is far more weight placed on characters I thought were minor, and it did take me a while to adjust.
Thematically, The Glass Casket is quite ambitious, though it didn’t manage to reach the heights it aspired for. In a village that interacts with the supernatural, there is very little that genuinely shocks or surprises the reader. Part of it might be how the characters never really seem to be all that shocked or surprised themselves, and the disconnect of it bleeds through. I would find myself forgetting what had happened in the previous chapter soon after starting a new one, and having to go back to reread became tedious.
The Final Say: Readers well versed in magic realism may not find much to consume in The Glass Casket, but there is definite potential for Templeman’s future work, and I look forward to it.
McCormick Templeman has a BA in English Literature from Reed College and an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. She lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.