After reading The Mercies this year, I have discovered that I’m very much into historical fiction that involves witches and the witch trials. So when I came across The Glass Woman which was also likened to Jane Eyre (one of my favourite classics) I just had to pick it up.
Set in Iceland in 1686, The Glass Woman follows the story of Rósa as she becomes betrothed to the mysterious Jón Eiríksson and has to leave her home to move to the remote village he resides in, a village that is suspicious of outsiders and Jón. However, isolation isn’t the only thing that has Rósa uneasy, there are strange noises coming from the attic that is always locked and her new husband seems intent on avoiding her – will she ever feel comfortable in the village or will she meet the same fate as Jón’s first wife…?
I really liked Rósa’s character, I thought she was quite complex, there were times where the reader got to see her as a character who was headstrong and independent but then other times she felt she needed to hide this side of her around Jón. I thought Jón was an interesting character, especially when the novel would change to his perspective in the near future. I enjoyed that we were kept in the dark regarding his past and his first wife Anna, this made it easier to like Rósa and understand her sudden change in behaviour to appear more meek around her husband. My favourite character, however, was Petur. Out of all of them he was the only one to feel genuine and he did have a couple lines of blunt which made me laugh.
This novel had a really strong start, when I put it down I found myself looking forward to picking it back up again. Lea built an atmospheric landscape brilliantly and created a tension which kept me hooked. Even though I had mostly warred out one of the major twists, that didn’t mean the reveal or that particular scene any less haunting. However, despite having a strong start as I got to the last fear chapters of the book, I found that I couldn’t understand why Jón and Rósa decided to do what they did. I just felt that the situation could have been resolved in a better way. Additionally, whilst the theme of witchcraft was one of the reasons why I picked the novel up, I was disappointed that the theme wasn’t explored in depth and was only occasionally mentioned.
Overall, The Glass Woman was a good read with some very interesting characters, however I feel that the ending did let the novel down and this was more of a gothic romance than a book on witchcraft, which some I know of you will enjoy regardless.