The Fire in the Glass
Review of A Historical Fantasy Novel
The Fire in the Glass by Jacquelyn Benson is the first book in the The Charismatics series. It is a historical fantasy novel set in Pre-World War I London. The protagonist of the book is Lily, a young woman with psychic abilities. Through one of her visions, she foresees a murder and the story follows her as she does everything she can to stop the killer who is targeting mediums in the city. Throughout the book she is accompanied by Lord Strangford. Strangford is one of a number of people with strange abilities that have been dubbed "Charismatics".
With its elements of romance, this is not the typical story I would read but I enjoyed it. Lily is an interesting main character. She has psychic abilities but does not know how to access or control them. Seeing Lily's journey as she gets to know her abilities and use them in more and more effective ways was thrilling.
One of my favorite characters in the book was Lord Strangford. He is a young member of the aristocracy. He also has the ability to see a person's memories by touching the person or one of their personal items which comes in handy multiple times throughout the story. Benson gave Strangford an interesting ability that I thought was fresh and exciting. It was something I had not encountered before, and I felt it added so much to Strangford's character. The dynamic between Strangford and Lily was a fun addition.
The story contains elements of mystery, romance and adventure - Sherlock Holmes meets The X-men. Jacquelyn Benson creates a rich world with beautiful fantasy elements. Her writing style makes everything seem so plausible. Despite having these elements and being set over one hundred years ago, Lily's world felt real to me. I was completely immersed in her world and thus immersed in the story.
The story was not without a few problems, in my opinion. At the beginning of the novel, when we are first introduced to Lily's ability, it was unclear to me that what she was seeing was not real. It took me a moment to understand what was happening. There were a few elements that also seemed anachronistic to me. It was set in 1914 and horse and carriages played a big part in the story. I know cars were not common place at that time but, it did make it feel like the story took place in a little earlier time. One element of the story involving blood was also inaccurate but, it did not take me completely out of the story. (The only way I discovered the inaccuracy was to look it up on Google.)
Despite a little bit of a slow start, I enjoyed The Fire in the Glass significantly more than I expected. It was a fascinating story full of interesting, fleshed out characters. It was a thought-out, well written story that kept me guessing. It was entertaining from beginning to end. I definitely recommend The Fire in the Glass to any fan of mystery or historical fantasy novels.