Lin Fox is dragged away from her life in England by her family. Her father is obsessed with finding the mysterious Allerheiligen Glass – medieval stained glass windows thought lost for centuries – and moves them to a remote part of Germany. His initial investigations are hampered by the inconvenient death of his contact and the locals are none too welcoming. It could be a coincidence, but maybe not. Maybe someone doesn’t want them to find the glass.
This book builds slowly, revealing the mystery in little chunks. There’s a web of complicated and none too rosy relationships between the characters of Lin’s family. It becomes something of a moral tale about the dangers of not listening to each other, of being so self-centred you’re not aware of the people around you. I spent the entire book trying to work out exactly what the relationship between Lin and Tuesday was, which was disorienting at first, but came clear in the end.
Lin’s infatuation with a good looking local priest who teaches at her school is so believably adolescent. Combined with her relationship with the boy next door, Michel, and her changing relationships with her family, you really get to watch her grow up from a series of reality checks.
The book is essentially a thriller, or mystery, but I for a long time I couldn’t tell whether it had a genuine supernatural element or not. The characters believe in the demon who haunts the glass and the evidence keeps you guessing. I loved that about the book.
The one thing that let it down for me was the occasional interjection from the narrator, Lin, to reassure me that something good was just around the corner. I’d be reading along, quite happily and reach the end of a chapter which concluded with something like “little did I know it would be the worst day of my life” or “at that time <blank> was still alive.” I didn’t need teasers like that to keep me reading. I already wanted to know what was going to happen.
It was quite clear from early on that one of the characters was going to die. It just remained to discover how and when. I felt let down when it finally did happen, because I though, how much more powerful would this have been if I hadn’t known it was coming?
It felt like I was reading a nervous author who wasn’t confident enough to trust the reader to find the story compelling.
The pace quickens as the story progresses. I was quite happy reading a chapter here or there for the first third, but then I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down. Over all a good read, with a compelling mystery that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.