The Glass Demon by Helen Grant
3rd Apr 2012
According to Demon’s back page, Katharina Linden grew from Grant and her family’s life in Germany. There Grant heard and explored “the beautiful legends” of her small town.
That Germanic influence is evident on every page of The Glass Demon. Teen girl Lin Fox moves with her family to the rural town of Allerheilegen.
Her rather pompous father, a college professor with aspirations of History Channel fame, receives a letter inviting him to help search for the fabled Allerheilegen glass.
The glass is part of a church, long since destroyed, and is reputed to have dark powers. The folklore centres around the connection between the glass and a powerful demon.
Grant builds a sense of foreboding early on. The first thing Lin and her family do in Germany is to find an old man dead in an apple orchard, presumably after falling off his ladder while picking apples.
Lin tries to make herself accept this explanation, even as she notices a mysterious pile of glass surrounding the body. Lin’s father, Dr. Oliver Fox, decides that the best thing to do is get back in the car and drive on as if nothing happened.
This tells the reader almost everything she needs to know about Dr. Fox and his selfish drive to succeed. It also establishes Lin as the only member of the family who will defy her father and question his decisions.
Her stepmother, Tuesday, submits to Dr. Fox and tries to control Lin and her sister Polly. Polly is polite and obliging. Tuesday’s baby son, Ru, has no say in anything.
It falls to Lin to investigate the other deaths that soon take place, and to persuade Professor Fox that coming to Germany to look for a demon’s cursed stained glass was a supremely bad idea.
Lin Fox is part of a long line of teenage girl detectives. Nancy Drew is her archetypal mother; Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone could have been her aunt and mentor.
Grant builds suspense through action and misdirection, but she also shows us Lin’s calm, logical thought process. Since Lin is a teenager, she sometimes yells, slams things, and silently resents adult interference in her life.
None of this makes her any less convincing as a problem solver. She is a heroine who will stick with readers long after they finish the book.
Like The Hunger Games or the latter Harry Potter books, The Glass Demon is a young adult book that adults can crawl into the skin of. Buy it in paperback for £5.17, or get the Kindle edition for £5.99.
Recommended for: Teens and adults who like fast-paced, intelligent mysteries with supernatural elements.