A NOTE ON IMPARTIALITY
To be clear, Matthew Adams is a friend of mine, and any readers of this review will have to make their own judgements about its impartiality. For my part, I try to be objective and evaluate everything I read on its own merits. I can be very hard to please—just ask my crit partners.
Alannah Brynne is a Touchstone, a being who endures the burden of raw human emotions gifted to her by the Gatherers. Her only solace lies in her Winnowing, a release from the torment of feelings she bears.
Her devotion to Eamon, a Light Gatherer, cannot overcome her distrust of his kind, nor dispel the bitter loneliness she feels.
One day she meets a human in Central Park, where she went to be alone. Instead, he draws her picture as a Sleeping Beauty, surrounded by thorns . . .
Enticed by a chance to masquerade as a human and liberate herself from her own sense of fate, Alannah develops a secret relationship with the young artist, Liam Griffin. Yet as they grow closer and she realizes Liam is falling for her, she feels torn by her deceptions to him, as well as by her own lingering love for Eamon.
First, let me say this is a thoughtful, moving, and involving read, but how to review a book like Glowstar? I don’t want to discuss specifics of the characters or the plot, as the unravelling of the mystery is where the book’s appeal lies. Its genre? There are elements of urban paranormal and romance, but the style is definitely literary. The plot? For me, this is a book of moods and feelings. If you are looking for a book where lots of stuff happens, then this isn’t it; it isn’t thrash metal or light and breezy pop—think of it more as a classical symphony or possibly an ambient CD. There are themes and movements, interlinked by threads and phrases, which make up the lyrical prose. It is an intimate story about relationships outside of humanity, yet that mirror our own. It is about identity and self-discovery. It is about closeness and detachment. It is about hope, love and loss, and about finding happiness and contentment in life within the boundaries that confine us. It is about mortality, and living with it. It is about choices—coming to terms rather than overcoming. Glowstar is introverted, never extrovert. To read Glowstar is to experience a journey, not an adventure.
If you have reached this point in the review and I have done my job, you are thinking one of two things: either you are intrigued, or you are feeling frustrated and you are looking at your screen thinking, “Get on with it! When are you going to tell me what’s going on? When is something going to happen? When do we get to the action, to the reveal?” If you are in the latter camp, then I can say, with reasonable certainty, that you will probably find Glowstar slow and frustrating.
I’m not in the latter camp—if you enjoy intimacy, mood, symbolism, subtle dialogue, effective use of setting, and solid characterisation that work together seamlessly to create a sense of the ethereal, a sense of otherness and mystery, then you will find Glowstar a very rewarding read. It is because of the mystery and intimacy of Alannah’s experiential and emotional journey that the book has the power to move the reader. Matthew Adams paints word pictures with artistry and subtly blended tones on a small canvas. This tale drops you into Alannah’s world, and then gently draws you deeper. The book does not give up its secrets easily, but when it does, each is another careful brush stroke that adds greater perspective to what is already there rather than turning everything upside down in a tumult of new events, characters or shock revelations.
I will not give away the ending, but I will say it is beautiful and bittersweet, and handled with intelligence and sensitivity. As a piece of writing Glowstar is a crescendo—a slow building of themes and subtleties toward a triumphant climax. The mysteries of the story are laid bare, with a few surprises, but these surprises interweave seamlessly with what has gone before and add depth and meaning to the preceding narrative. For me, the ending is the fulcrum on which the book’s success pivots—without it, the subtleties would be interesting, but leave the reader in a mire of tangled threads. However, the narrative is pulled together skilfully; each thread is illuminated in such a way that the beauty of the whole pattern can be seen allowing the reader to step back and digest the experience. It may sound clichéd to say reading Glowstar is an “experience”, but it is one of those haunting books that stays with you a long time after you turn the final page.
Highly recommended for the thoughtful and patient reader—5 out of 5 stars.
for the Nook eReader from Barnes and Noble;
and for the Kobo eReader from here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Lee Adams has a lifelong love for the written word, with reading tastes that have ranged through genres and categories. Before pursuing a degree in Russian Studies and later a postgraduate degree, he was a student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which cultivated his passion for artistic endeavours. He lives with his wife, the poet Carolyn Adams, and a symphony of well-fed backyard squirrels and other wildlife.
Matthew has written four other novels: the Winter Fade trilogy, and Becomings.