Review: Morgan True Blum's "The Glassblower"
HOLY COW, OKAY.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done an indie book review, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this fired up to write one before! I just finished (and by ‘just finished’ I mean literally like seven minutes ago) The Glassblower by Morgan True Blum. As some of you may know (or more likely not), I wrote a book review for Morgan True Blum’s first book in the series The Breadwinner. In it, I raved about how it ignited in me some long-lost nostalgic love for magic and a passion for reading—a passion I haven’t truly felt since middle school.
The Breadwinner and its sequel The Glassblower follow the central storyline of Pasha, a Russian immigrant living in New York who soon discovers he is really the heir to the kingdom of Ursa in the magical, astrological realm of Voiler. This realm is filled with fay of all kinds and a blood-thirsty brood threatening the stability and safety of the realm of Voiler.
The Glassblower however, shifts its focus a tad. This volume features the trial Pasha and his mother, Lydia, undergo to determine his legitimacy for the throne, and to my surprise, the story behind it all: the story of Staccato Nimbus and Evangeline Soter.
*phew* Okay. I have a lot to say, so let me just get to it.
As is my custom for book reviews, I will start with some of the weaknesses in this book. It pains me to say this (because I hold this book series so near and dear to my heart), but the first 127 pages were bland for me. I didn’t feel that nostalgic rush for adventure characteristic of The Breadwinner until Chapter 13 “Coulter and Coulter”. It may just be my ADHD brain talking. You know, the part of my brain that whines “oh my god, why are they still talking??? Why are we still in the same spot??” Others would probably call this lull in pace: character development—and I would be foolish not to agree.
Unfortunately, I felt this lull in the book’s pacing was far too long to be justified with character development. I understand why the pause in pacing was necessary as character development and to lay breadcrumbs for reveals later in the story…(hint, hint, secrets, secrets, wink, wink) but I feel that a lot of the comic relief could have been cut.
This brings me to my second point: the comic relief. As I have mentioned before, author Morgan True Blum is an extraordinarily talented author and artist. She holds her work so fondly that she draws pages upon pages of her characters and even illustrated the covers for both The Breadwinner and The Glassblower. It is with this in mind that sometimes I wondered if these whimsical depictions of her characters got the better of her when writing comic relief.
I often felt that the comedy was suffocating the plot progression. It felt as if I were reading a cartoon: a classic slapstick cartoon in particular. The comedy was of characters slipping around and falling, getting themselves clumsily caught up in messy situations with one another from sheer odd coincidence and a stroke of bad luck. This made the characters and their interactions feel forced at times—less believable. It is this that made me realize: as I read I do in fact picture these characters as illustrated cartoons, however, it is when they are within the realm of an older-teen verging on adult cartoon that I enjoyed this the most. I felt the silly, whimsical moments to be overbearing and childish. These moments would have been fine if they were far and few between, but the first chunk of the book was drenched in it.
This being said, there are plenty of moments in the book when the comedy is earned: page 477-478 in particular (to avoid spoilers, I won’t say what happens, you’ll just have to read it for yourself!). I laughed out loud and hysterically to myself. Morgan True Blum is not lacking a funny bone, she just has to practice when to use it.
Now, FINALLY, on to the good stuff, of which there is PLENTY!
I have to say, when I read the first chapter that focused on Staccato’s back story, I groaned! I thought to myself, “no! I want this to all be dramatically revealed in court! Not given away to me like some television medieval drama!” and never have I been more wrong. Staccato and Evangeline’s story enraptured me. I was a completely brainwashed devotee to the spectacle that was their lives. If I am to be completely honest, I was not one that cared all too much for the character of Staccato, but knowing what I know now, I positively adore that old tormented cinnamon roll!
There are pages upon pages that I could write about this aspect of the book, but to avoid spoilers, I’ll just have to say, holy frosted muffin, just read the damned thing!
I will even go as far as to say that Staccato and Evangeline stole the show from Pasha in this book. While Pasha’s side-quest with Faina and Cicada was a wild thrill ride that had me hunched over like a book gremlin on my couch, I was led along with the seductive promise of more Staccato and Evangeline a chapter away.
With this in mind, I would like to say that the character development of was quite possibly some of the best character development that I have seen in this series yet. It was breathtaking and poetic how masterfully author Morgan True Blum warped this boyish, charming, and passionate man into a stressed and spiteful ruler. I would even call it one of the more quiet but impactful tragedies of this series.
I would also like to take a moment to mention representation in Morgan True Blum’s imagined world of Voiler. We have characters of all shapes, colors, convictions, and philosophies. It is quite honestly a colorful and festive joy to read. Furthermore, the representation of abuse and mental illness was breathtaking. My heart split open for Evangeline; for her abuse and the endless gas-lighting that she endured. Even more so, what I felt was especially skillfully done was the strange understanding of the mentality behind those gas-lighting her. They weren’t inherently monsters; they were simply fueled by their own worries and weaknesses (although that does not justify their attitudes toward her). The only representation that I’m missing is a little sprinkling of LGBTQ!
Deep. Breaths. Okay, I am maybe a bit of a fan. Okay, a huge fan because this is going on two pages and there’s still so much I could say. The best way for me to wrap up this review and not continue rambling on is to say this: The Breadwinner and The Glassblower have stolen my heart. By the end of The Glassblower, I was smiling cheek-to-cheek, laughing, excited, and somehow broken-hearted to near the end. This book grabbed my emotions by the reins and steered me through page after page like there was no other direction left to go in this world.
Author Morgan True Blum has a vibrantly portrayed world with just the perfect balance of light-hearted characters in a world that roughs them up more than they bargained for. This is the give and take of nostalgic childhood reading layered with carefully presented adult themes. I vouch for Morgan True Blum more than I have ever vouched for any other before: traditionally or self-published. This series deserves recognition and deserves to be shared.
Please, if you do anything during this strange time that we live in, treat yourself and snuggle down on the couch with one of Morgan True Blum’s magical and thrilling reads. You will not regret it.
Follow Author Morgan True Blum:
Buy The Breadwinner:
Pre-Order The Glassblower: