Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
Just to lay this out there - its always the good ones who suffer. Its always the good ones who have to sacrifice for another's adventure.
Starting THE GLASS CASKET it was, to be blunt, not entirely engaging. It had an interesting premise, and I certainly enjoyed the fairy tale-esque vibe, but not a whole lot happened. The soldiers died, the village was troubled, mysterious people showed up...by in large we followed Rowan who was only mildly interested in the mystery. Rowan wanted to make something of herself by way of being a scholar and while she spent as much time running around with her friend Tom as she did studying, she had very little interest outside of her life.
Until about page 100 or so it was a whole lot of daily to do'ing going on with very little driving me to keep reading. Tom was your basic "good boy" (so good that everyone kept saying that about him. If I read "You've always been such a good boy Tom" once I read it a thousand times) with insta-love complex, Fiona Eira was so beautiful it hurt to look at her, but she's also insecure and terribly uncertain of things, Rowan wants to be a scholar and wants to never marry, Jude is...sardonic and sarcastic and seems to know things....
And then page 100 happens and suddenly BAM the story decides it needs to actually start itself.
Templeman does weave a good tense horror book. The deaths that occur are, as Rowan at one point reflects, only connected by their manner and even that is suspect as the soldier died only superficially like the others (that superficially part being that it was gruesome). It took me much longer to catch on then I liked, but I applaud Templeman for weaving in the Greywitches (which sound as like Baba Yaga in many ways) without beating that plot point home. I suggest you pay attention to the subtle clues throughout, which the characters more then happily give you, but as rather insignificantly mentioned at times.
There's a couple mysteries to unravel and not all of them unravel in pleasant ways. There's something to be said about self-fulfilling prophecy in this book, as well knowing when to listen.
The romance...its also not a terribly fluffy cuddly thing. Love is used almost as a weapon here, with several characters claiming to be doing horrendous things for love. Templeman got me the most with the pain. Rowan bewildered and trying to remind herself that reality is reality and some things will never happen again. Or Tom, poor good Tom trying desperately to make sense of his feelings even as he admits to Rowan, his oldest and best friend, that they can't possibly be right. These are things that caught me.
The ending is open-ended insofar as Rowan's future holds, so Templeman could continue her adventure, or it could end with this book and its tragedies and its small comforts. In the end the reader has to decide whether they are more like Tom or more Rowan...and whether that is a good thing or not.