Teenage assassins, witches, magic, ghosts, and a full cast of incredibly diverse characters? What doesn’t this book have? When I first heard about The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass by Adan Jerreat-Poole, I immediately signed in to NetGalley to request an ARC, and I’m so happy I did.
This book follows Eli, who was created by her witch “mother” and raised to be an assassin. She travels between the City of Eyes (the world of the witches) and the City of Ghosts (better known as the human world) carrying out jobs for the coven. And yes, by jobs I mean assassinations. However, she usually kills ghosts . . . that is, until something strange happens on a job and she ends up killing a human.
It’s at this point that Eli begins to question everything. She’s angry, and doesn’t exactly trust the coven anymore. Soon, she finds herself caught up with two humans, Tav and Cam, who are somehow aware of the City of Eyes, and need to break in and steal from the coven in order to save the human world. Will Eli betray the world she grew up in, or use her knowledge and power to help others? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out!
I really enjoyed the world building in this story. I’m always a little wary about debut fantasy titles, but I found this one to be very enjoyable. Yes, some details were a bit confusing, but since there is a second book coming out I assume more will be explained there. I felt the same way reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo earlier this year (which is not a debut, but I was confused and annoyed about some plot details until I learned there would be a sequel).
The writing was incredibly descriptive, which I love seeing in fantasy books. I could picture Eli’s character so perfectly, with her crocodile eyes and lizard tongue, and all of her beautiful blades designed to kill before anyone even notices her presence.
However, for me, the best part of the book was the diverse cast of LGBTQ+ characters. In The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass we see main characters who are queer and non-binary, and it was so refreshing. I know there are more and more books being published with diverse representation, but I still get so excited every time I see it. I hope this book is able to get into the hands of young readers who want to see themselves in the stories they read.
Thank you to the publisher, Dundurn, for an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley. The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass comes out in Canada on May 16, 2020, and can be pre-ordered or purchased wherever books are sold.