Review: The Glass Republic, by Tom Pollock

Glass Republic

Series: The Skyscraper Throne, #2 | Genre: Urban fantasy, YA | Format: Hardcover | Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books | Publication date: August 1st 2013 | My rating: 5/5

Pen’s life revolves around secrets: the secrets behind her three-month disappearance from school last winter, the secret cause of the scars that mar her face, and, most secret of all, her twin sister Parva: her doppelganger in London-Under-Glass, the city behind the mirrors.

Pen’s trying to forget Reach, Filius Viae and the Wire Mistress and get back to a normal life, but when Parva vanishes, she has no choice but to seek out London’s stranger side. And when Pen journeys through the mirror, she finds a world where scars make you beautiful and criminals will kill you for your face – a world in which Pen’s sister was keeping secrets of her own…

I am somewhat (very) ashamed that reading this book took me so long. Let me assure you, fellow fans, that picking up the forthcoming final installment will certainly NOT take so long.

This. Was. AWESOME.

PLEASE NOTE: The following review may contain spoilers for The City’s Son, though I will do my best to keep them minimal…

The first book in this trilogy introduced us to Beth Bradley and Parva “Pen” Khan, and surprise-twisted the heck out of its ending where Filius Viae was concerned. As a YA story, this one could easily (oh so easily) hold its ground against a lot of adult novels I’ve read. As an urban fantasy, it kicks the arse of many more. With The Glass Republic, Tom Pollock’s only gone and done the same again – but bigger. And, dear god my poor abused geek heart, it’s even better.

Damn it, Tom. DAMN IT.

*Makes herself a cup of tea*

Right then. First of all, I must note with the utmost worldbuilding-nerd delight that the setup in Book One was no fluke. Pollock’s fantasy version of London gets deeper, darker and by far more disturbingly wonderful in this book. And when I say darker, I mean whoa. My inner gothy teen is both delighted and sad that she never had these books.

The precipitecture (it freaking rains buildings!). The Masonry Men (they literally come out of the god damn walls!).


It’s bloody wonderful, innit.

And let’s not forget the star of this show. After her ordeal at the hands of the Wire Mistress, Pen takes the spotlight here as she goes into London Under Glass to search for her missing mirror-sister, Parva. And as it turns out, Parva had the kind of life Pen never even imagined. A tricky turn of events leads to her impersonating her twin, and thus the mysterious peril-fest begins as she starts trying to figure out what happened to her and ends up discovering a much, much bigger nasty surprise…

No joke. The surprise twist here is a bloody big one. I – *reflexively gags self*

*Makes more tea*

Right, where was I.

Happily, Beth is not absent from this misadventure. Indeed, her role in the story gets miles more complicated. No spoilers here, I promise, but… I totally called that part after Book One. Not that I’m smug or anything, though, because that crafty bastard Pollock still got me in the end.

Still no spoilers, I promise! (Augh.)

But the real draw with these two isn’t only with their respective arcs, but the deep-rooted, troubled friendship that’s being unraveled and (I hope) put back together. As a teenaged girl discovering things about herself and her life that she never knew, naturally Pen also ends up exploring her own sexuality here – but what I tip my hat to Pollock for is letting her friendship with Beth develop (and fracture) only as a friendship, whatever Pen’s feelings might otherwise be on the matter. It highlights the close nature of their relationship without simply reverting to any sort of romantic default. Pen and Beth have their problems when this book begins, and neither of these girls will ever be the same person they were when it’s all said and done, but they are best friends. Abandonment of one by the other is apparently not an option, and I love seeing that kind of strong relationship handled this way.

I wasn’t crying. I had something in my eye.

Five stars isn’t enough, basically. Especially given that bloody plot twist of an ending (damn it!). This series has so far been a stellar example of what good YA, and good urban fantasy, should be. And if Pollock continues in this vein, then I will put good money on the final installment being epic.

Bring it.





4 thoughts on “Review: The Glass Republic, by Tom Pollock

  1. Wow. I tried really hard to like the first book, it contained so many elements that had my name all over them, but I just couldn’t get into it at all. Wish I could share your enthusiasm here!

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