Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

To be totally honest Glass Houses (the first volume of Rachel Caine’s highly successful Morganville Vampires series) is not normally the sort of thing I’d read. I can’t remember why I actually even purchased the first of them. I know my wife ripped through the whole series and found it compulsively readable.

On the surface of it the book and the series sound like so many others that are popular amongst urban fantasy and young adult readers.

Claire Danvers is an accelerated learning student who is attending Texas Prairie University located in the sleepy town of Morganville at the age of 16 before transferring to a more respected college like MIT or Caltech . After one too many beat downs and humiliation at the hands of the mean girls in her dorm, lead by the psychopathic Monica, Claire applies for a spot in the Glass House; a gothic mansion in town, inhabited by 3 local 18 year olds who are looking for a 4th to share expenses.

Once she’s in the Glass House, Claire learns Morganville’s secret. The town is run by vampires and largely exists to provide them with a haven and a food source. Of equal and possibly greater interest are the residents of the Glass House. On the surface Shane is a video game playing, womanising slacker with more than a touch of the bad boy about him, but there are secrets in his past. Eve looks like a perky Goth girl, but readers, and Claire, don’t find out much more than that, then there’s Michael. He sleeps all day, only appears at night and seems to be unwilling or unable to actually leave the house.

In the course of the book Claire will learn about herself and her new friends as well as the town and manage to make a friend of one of the town’s leading vampires and an enemy of another.

This wasn’t the first Rachel Caine book I’d read. I read the first of her Weather Warden books some years ago, but didn’t continue with the series. She was known to me, and she’s a decent writer. I think that’s one of the things that sets the Morganville books apart from many of the others, they are very well written, and written by someone who really knows her craft. The premise is interesting. Unlike a number of other urban fantasy and paranormal romance writers, Caine has set Morganville in a world that is not aware of vampires, and would see them as a threat if they were. In some ways Claire’s human antagonists were far more dangerous than any supernatural fiend. There’s a great rapport between Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve. We learn enough about them to make them interesting, but it’s clear that their stories are far from complete.

Claire’s indecision about who out of Shane and Michael she’s more interested in does become a bit wearing, hopefully she’ll get over this as the series continues. The girl is regularly described as being quite smart, but this is occasionally inconsistent as she has gaps in her knowledge I wouldn’t expect of a 16 year old bright enough to attend college, and she also does some pretty silly things to suit the story. Eve was another one that threw me at times. I like the character, but I don’t buy her as a Goth. She has the black hair and the white face as well as the black clothes and accessories, but she’s generally bright and perky. I saw her as rather like Harley Quinn or the Goth lab tech from NCIS.

The book moved fast and was well paced, it’s also compulsively readable. I ripped through it in a day and as it ends of a cliff I’ll be strapping in for Dead Girl’s Dance in the near future. 

1 comment:

  1. I think I bought the first one - maybe when Borders was having a sale?

    I did find them very addictive, and read them all rather quickly as i was always anxious to find out "what happens next".

    Claire annoyed me at times, especially early on, and I did have to remind myself that I wasn't the target audience age so stuff that bothered me wouldn't necessarily bother them. And I do get bored with love-triangles, so the quicker that plot line was resolved the better it was for me.

    Amelie is a very interesting character, and the more I learnt about her the more interesting she became. And you haven't met my favourite character yet!