Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.
Huge thank you to Raincoast Books for this ARC!
I am a big fan of Hannah Moskowitz’s books based on the handful I’ve read. I feel like her writing is the equivalent of a chameleon — every book stylistically feels so drastically different, and yet there’s always a small part in the writing that reminds you it’s a Hannah Moskowitz book. I was super excited for A History of Glitter and Blood, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was hoping.
First off, this book has a very weird style to it. One of the main things I’ve noticed is all the DNF reviews on Goodreads, and a lot of them complain about the unique style. I don’t blame people for giving up based on the style, it’s very difficult to read at times, often because the narrative jumps around, breaks the fourth wall, and sometimes feels like you’re being pushed away. However, when I gathered that this novel was being written a “history,” the observations and narrative did start to gel with me. Part of this issue is that it’s not entirely obvious right away who is telling the story — we know it’s about Beckan, but she isn’t the narrator.
The story itself, when you get past the style, it’s really interesting. It focuses on a war between fairy and gnomes, and you’re given this sense at first that it’s like “fairies good, gnomes bad” and Moskowitz does this amazing job of turning that mentality upside down and showing how both sides are fault. Moskowitz leads the reader through this violent and destructive war, and it’s described in such a raw and vivid way. If you don’t particularly like gore or graphic description, than this book might turn your stomach. The push and pull of both sides really resonated with me, and I liked that I couldn’t pick a side and point a finger to who was right and who was wrong. The book even ends in a somewhat ambiguous way, which I thought worked.
I think the hardest part of this story for me was while I liked the overall narrative, I struggled somewhat with the characters. I didn’t feel a strong connection to them, nor did I feel like they had enough personality to really differentiate from each other. You learn a lot from who is narrating the story, but it’s from that character’s perspective alone, which works because you get a sense of who this narrator likes and who they dislike. However, it means you’re only given a very limited perspective on the other characters, so you don’t really know if they are as bad or good as the narrator makes them out to be.
And that’s just it: while this book has amazing tension and a twisting narrative, it can be a touch confusing to know what is going on at times. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially because parts that feel confusing do get re-examined and there isn’t loose ends needing to be tied up by the end. I enjoyed my time with A History of Glitter and Blood, but I feel like the narrative style will definitely be something that might be off putting for some readers. Which is a same really, because while the lack of characterization bothered me, I have to admit to the fact that I was so swept up in the war and tension that this novel presents. I feel like those who love fantasy and politics will likely appreciate what A History of Glitter and Blood has to offer.