I suppose I should start with what I actually liked about The Glittering World by Robert Levy. Levy’s method of telling the story is unusual. There are four main characters, each who is given a sections of the book. Michael Whitley, or Blue, inherits a home from his grandmother up in Canada, and his three companions – best friend Elisa, her husband Jason, and bus boy Gabriel – accompany Blue up to the “wilds” of Nova Scotia so he gets his hands on some desperately needed funds through the sale of his newly acquired property in Sterling Cove. Blue’s mom begs her son not to go back to their hometown, but, of course, he doesn’t listen. If he had been sensible, there wouldn’t have been a story to tell. The book advances with each of the main characters telling a different part of the story from their unique perspectives. Blue, an amazing chef who mesmerizes his diners with his culinary talents, is one of those charismatic fellows who draws people to him, like moths to a flame. Elisa remains obsessively connected to Blue despite her marriage to Jason (who simply doesn’t get the whole Blue phenomena). Gabe recognizes Blue’s greatness from the moment they meet, and eventually takes to wearing his shirts due to their distinct and comforting scent. The rest of this review has some spoilers so if you want to be surprised skip to the last paragraph.
For me, it just doesn’t work. Usually I read a book straight through, but this one was a chore. I didn’t feel any attraction towards Blue – it simply didn’t come through. I viewed Blue more through Jason’s dubious eyes than Gabe’s adoring ones. In addition, the surrounded characters were unappealing especially due to the potentially life saving secrets they withheld from the visitors. The ones who might have been helpful were portrayed as fanatics who should have been locked up instead of being allowed to run around loose to wreck havoc on the community. The main characters were like the idiots found in horror movies, roaming about unaware of the dangers lurking just outside the door of their cottage. Actually, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to classify this book in the horror genre, instead of fantasy. When Blue and Elisa go missing, the others frantically search for them, but the local folk take it all in stride, since they are aware of the presence of the Other Kind and it’s not the first time someone has disappeared. In fact, Blue was supposedly kidnapped by the fairies when he was a child. His grandmother believed that when her grandson returned home he was really a changeling, so she kept him locked him up until Blue and his mother were able to escape to NYC. All these memories come flooding back to Blue when he enters his grandmother’s house and goes into the basement where the cage is still hanging. Within the cellar Blue is confronted with compelling reminders of the Glittering World from his childhood. I found the repetitive vague warnings of the townsfolk and the constant insipid mutterings of the main characters annoying. Despite the elaborate descriptions Levy uses in his narrative, there is too much introspection and not enough action. Due to the culmination I correctly envisioned, I found myself dreading instead of looking forward to reading all the way to the end of the book.
Perhaps if the writing had been more compelling or the characters more endearing, I would have appreciated the story better, but instead this book left me with the same feelings I experience after stepping on an insect and having it stick to my shoe – “ewwww”. Two and a half stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.