The Girl with Glass Feet

Title: The Girl with Glass Feet
Author: Ali Shaw
Pub Date: January 2010
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism
* I received this book via LT's Early Reviewers.

Ida is a vivacious young lady determined to experience everything in life. Or at least she used to be. Her lively spirit has turned more defiant as she comes to terms with her ailment. Ida has returned to the wintery island of St. Hauda’s where she believes her transformation began. She must seek the only man that she knows who might help this unrelenting disease which is slowly turning her into glass.

When she first met Henry Fuwa, he was rather distraught. One of his winged bulls (miniatures, of course) had died and Ida offered to comfort him over a gin. In this brief conversation, Fuwa alluded to the mysterious mythos of the island. It is Henry who she believes might hold the answer to her ailment.

Shortly after returning to St. Hauda, Ida meets Midas. Midas is a miserable and fearful man who hides behind his camera in the hopes of avoiding human contact. In many ways, Midas is Ida’s foil. They soon form a unique relationship as he agrees to help find Henry.

The Girl with Glass Feet is a mesmerizing and aching tale. I wanted to lap up its imagery and envelop myself in Shaw’s emotion. It’s both a fairy tale and a stark reality on how desperate we can be as humans. It mirrors hopes, dreams, fears, and delusions that form the foundation and structure of humanity.

A comment is made in the tale about how intertwined everyone’s lives are on the island. And bit by bit, the mysteries and connections unfold. It’s a reminder how secrets can cause misunderstandings, fear traps us, and decisions in our past unavoidable will control parts of our future. Shaw forces us to question our own life and what makes us human.

This is a soft story that shouts emotions. I know that I used the adjective “aching” and I cannot stress how vivid that emotion is still felt, even though it has been nearly a month since I’ve finished this book. As soon as I turned over the last page, I wanted to take a sharp breath inward in the hopes that the cold air would fill that huge hole in my gut that the novel left behind.

I know that it is early on in the year, but I strongly feel it is safe to say that The Girl with Glass Feet will be one of my (if not the) favorite novel of 2010. I did a bit of internet search on Shaw and am most impressed at his young age – sitting at five years younger than me, he truly has an intelligent and emotional picture of life that I wish I fully grasped during my early to mid-twenties.

One of my favorite passages:
"Light didn't conduct truth as once he'd thought. there was nothing you could do to preserve truth. Light was only of use as a metaphor for the ungraspable moment. Until there was a kind of camera invented that could return you entirely to a moment from your past, pictures such as those were no use. At first he'd felt a thrill upon deleting them. Without them he had only her flesh, hair, glass. Only now, surrounded by the familiar, pollinated air, dealing with the humdrum demands of customers, he was beginning to doubt his wisdom. he had defined himself through photography for too long." (274)


  1. I saw my first negative review of this yesterday and that made me sad because I really want to read it and it sounds so good! Glad to see another positive.

  2. I hadn't heard of this book before your review. You've made me want to read it, though I've had mostly so-so experiences with magical realism.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  3. I've heard such great things about this book! It sounds right up my alley too.

  4. I really liked this book when I read it last year, though it was really quite sad. It was so different than most other books- I found that really nice. And it is a PERFECT winter read!

  5. I am so happy it is good as I have just started to read it!

  6. This might be good for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge -- thanks!


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