“It was just her and Midas in here, tucked away from the world. Here she could turn quietly into glass, with only love to distract her.”
One of very few books I have come across which to me really captures the essence of magical realism. Fantastical elements are woven into this story so cleanly that at first you almost don’t realise it – from moth winged cattle to a beast that turns everything it looks at white, this story is mesmerising and chilling at the same time.
The main characters unfortunately don’t come across as particularly likeable. But perhaps this is a symptom of the world they live in. Ida has a mysterious and seemingly incurable condition which is causing her skin to turn to glass, which she thinks she contracted on her first visit to St Hauda’s Land. Before returning to search for a cure, it seems she lived in a fairly normal world, where she had a job and went on holiday and had fun with friends. St Hauda’s Land is a place of many secrets, most of which even its inhabitants are unaware of, and the bare and cold landscape is as haunting as Ida’s condition.
This is one of those books that just won’t let you forget about it. It played on my mind until I had to read it again, and it now holds a place amongst my most favourite books. I’ll probably read it for a third time and still find something new to love about it. The secondary characters are just as compelling as Ida and Midas, the man who, despite his social anxiety and inability to connect with people, finds himself trying to help Ida find a cure to her affliction. Midas and Ida’s family histories intertwine with the slow creeping glass, which affects both characters in more ways than one.
Haunting and melancholy yes, but also, in essence, a story about love and its limits (or lack of). If you have never read anything like this before, I would urge you to give it a try. You might hate it, but I doubt it. Either way, it will certainly give you something to talk about.