A young girl jumps into a stream to swim with her friends and is suspended in mid-air while the world around her spins in time, seasons changing in seconds. When she hits the water, she and her friends are stunned to find that the entire planet has gone through upheaval, and different areas of the world now exist in countless pockets of time: past, present, and future. Traveling to a different country now means traveling to a different age.
Generations later, Sophia Tims lives in the 1890s with her Uncle Shadrack, a cartographer, since her explorer parents left for the Papal States years ago and never returned. They departed in such a hurry that they left their papers behind, and the Parliament in Boston has just voted to close the borders. If her parents don’t return within the next week, they will no longer be able to enter New Occident or the 19th century. In order to save them, Shadrack reveals his hidden library to Sophia and begins to teach her about reading memory maps made of clay, metal, and glass. They will need to use the maps to find her parents, but before they can begin their journey, Sophia returns home one day to find the house ransacked and Uncle Shadrack kidnapped. When Sophia sets out to find him with a glass map, cryptic messages, and a strange boy who has run away from the circus, her journey becomes more than just a search for her family. As she travels, she realizes that events are unfolding that could change history forever, and the glass map in her backpack holds the key.
The Glass Sentence is one of the most original works I have read in a long time. Evidently, debut author S.E. Grove is not content to rehash old plotlines, as so many authors today are doing. The world inside this book is expertly crafted and amazingly complex. The main cast of characters includes fully realized adults and adolescents, and the scope grows larger and larger as the story unfolds. If I had any quibble with the book at all, it is that there are occasionally explanatory passages that go on for too long. Even though the main character is a young teenager, the plot is complex enough for an adult reader, and at 489 pages, this one may be difficult for a reluctant young reader. The villains are unique and terrifying, like something out of a nightmare, and the action and adventure will keep the pages turning. This is a terrific read.
Highly recommended for very competent ten-year-old readers to adults. Prepare to keep the lights on for the younger ones.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are completely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.