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The Glass Demon    by Helen Grant order for
Glass Demon
by Helen Grant
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Helen Grant, author of the excellent and unusual Vanishing of Katharina Linden, once again blends mystery, legend, and horror in a small German town in The Glass Demon. And once again, the heroine is from England.

Seventeen year old Lin Fox did not want to go to Germany, away from her school and friends. And her family is not a happy one. Her self absorbed father (an obsessed medievalist in search of the almost mythical and probably cursed Allerheiligen stained glass) pays little attention to his children. Lin muses, 'My father's ambition was a monstrous thing, a rampaging bull elephant upon which he rode like an ineffectual mahout, while the rest of us ran alongside like street urchins, trying to keep up yet afraid of being trampled.' Her mother, Tuesday, leaves the care of eighteen month old Ru (Reuben) almost entirely to Lin's older sister Polly.

Deaths as well as bizarre and dangerous events haunt the family from the moment they arrive in Niederburgheim, where they stumble upon the corpse of an old farmer in an apple orchard (Lin's father insists on driving on, rather than reporting it to the police). At each scene of violence, including the first, there is a scattering of broken, colored glass, bringing to mind the fearful legend of the Allerheiligen glass demon. The family stays in an overgrown castle in the middle of a forest. Almost immediately, Lin meets a boy, Michel, from a nearby farm. He's clearly attracted to her and gives her rides to school, though their relationship is tense.

There are further strange deaths (of people associated with the search for the Allerheiligen glass) and attacks on the Foxes. After Lin discovers that Michel knows the location of the lost stained glass windows, she persuades him to show them to her. And she worries about her sister Polly who is not eating and is wasting away. Lin feels like her 'sanity was suspended on wires and one by one they were snapping under the load.' It only gets worse when she realizes that the scenes in the windows have been replicated in the local deaths. Finally Lin decides it's time to confront the demon and try to put an end to the horror.

The Glass Demon is even better than The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, and Helen Grant even harder on her young heroine this time. Though the Fox family comes through their ordeal, they are all badly damaged, and it's up to Lin (the strongest Fox) to find healing. Don't miss The Glass Demon.

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