The Glass Town Game
Charlotte and Emily must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it…almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies, especially now that he has a new weapon from the real world? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?Together the Brontë siblings must battle with a world of their own creation if they are to make it back to England alive in this magical celebration of authorship, creativity, and classic literature from award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente.

The Glass Town Game Details

TitleThe Glass Town Game
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Rating
GenreFantasy, Childrens, Middle Grade, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult

The Glass Town Game Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Because this is a Valente book, the writing is stunning. And, because this is a Valente book, The Glass Town Game is very... odd. I'm rounding up to three stars for this combination of one of today's best fantasy authors and the juvenilia of some of my favourite authors of all time, but I struggle to know who to recommend it to.The Glass Town Game goes back to the childhood of the four Bronte children - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne - and explores their inner world in a strange tale that b Because this is a Valente book, the writing is stunning. And, because this is a Valente book, The Glass Town Game is very... odd. I'm rounding up to three stars for this combination of one of today's best fantasy authors and the juvenilia of some of my favourite authors of all time, but I struggle to know who to recommend it to.The Glass Town Game goes back to the childhood of the four Bronte children - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne - and explores their inner world in a strange tale that blurs fantasy and reality. When Charlotte and Emily must go back to their dreaded boarding school, their father instructs Branwell to guide them there, and take young Anne with him. However, their journey is disturbed by a bizarre turn of events - their childhood toys and stories have come to life.I found myself torn between a stunning literary display of vivid imagery, metaphor, whimsy and nods to the Bronte writings and a story that was way too juvenile for my tastes. Who is this book for? Many adults and older teens will surely be put off by the quirky story that consists of toy soldiers coming to life and taking the children on an adventure. I must confess that I found exploring the fictional worlds created by the young Brontes to be a bit boring. If you are an adult/YA looking for a children's story with a touch of whimsy and that classic feeling, I'd recommend Rooftoppers instead.What’s strange, though, is that while the plot itself is very juvenile, the writing and literary references feel far suited to an older audience. Will many middle-grade readers appreciate the metaphor and literary nods? I'm doubtful. Though beautifully-written, I struggle to imagine the kind of reader who will fully enjoy this book. It seems too young for adults and older teens; too mature for the target middle-grade audience.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Catherine
    January 1, 1970
    Valente could write the backs of ketchup bottles and I'd read them.
  • Karl
    January 1, 1970
    This copy is an uncorrected proof Advanced Readers Copy of the hardcover edition.
  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/09/04/...As a relative newcomer to Catherynne M. Valente, having only read my first book by her earlier this year, I’ve grown increasingly curious about her other work especially her Middle Grade/Children’s projects. And so when the opportunity to read The Glass Town Game came to me, it sounded like it could be the perfect place to start.Inspired by the fantastical stories and worlds created by the Brontë siblings as children, this 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/09/04/...As a relative newcomer to Catherynne M. Valente, having only read my first book by her earlier this year, I’ve grown increasingly curious about her other work especially her Middle Grade/Children’s projects. And so when the opportunity to read The Glass Town Game came to me, it sounded like it could be the perfect place to start.Inspired by the fantastical stories and worlds created by the Brontë siblings as children, this novel follows Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne as they are spirited away to a land populated by the creatures and denizens of their own imagination. The book opens with the two oldest girls preparing to leave for Cowan Bridge School, a situation none of the youngsters are happy about, considering how their two older sisters had just recently died from a fever contracted from that very same place. As the only brother, Branwell is instructed to accompany them to the carriage station, while also bringing along Anne. In town, however, the children are distracted by the sights and sounds, and instead of continuing on to Cowan Bridge, they find themselves unexpectedly carried off on a magical train bound for another realm.To the children’s surprise and excitement, the place they find themselves is Glass Town, a perfect replica of the world they have created in their imaginations during play sessions, complete with all their dolls and wooden toy soldiers come to life. Unfortunately though, as they soon find out, the rules they’ve come up with during their fun and games have also become binding, and innocent joy quickly turns to worry as the siblings begin to wonder if they’ll ever find their way home.At the beginning of this review, I posited that The Glass Town Game might be a good jumping on point for readers curious about Valente’s Middle Grade books. However, after finishing this novel, I’ve started to rethink that initial assessment. The truth is, I’m having a hard time figuring out its audience. The publisher’s recommendation is for children between Grades 4-7, which ostensibly makes sense, considering the ages of the main characters as well as the silly and somewhat juvenile nature of their adventures. Kids who delight in wild, whimsical descriptions and situations (like Napoleon Bonaparte riding to war on a giant chicken, for example) will no doubt eat this one right up.However, linguistically and stylistically, I feel that the writing in this book is actually geared towards readers much older than the ages recommended. The story’s pacing suggests this to me as well, with large swaths of the book that could have been cut down or scrapped completely, for they added no real substance to the plot. While adult and young adult readers might gain some appreciation for all this exposition by finding value in the character or relationship development, I have to wonder if the majority of Middle Grade readers will have the same amount of patience for these slower sections, not to mention how the double meanings behind many of the “punny” jokes might go over their heads.Honestly, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this book. Characters and storytelling are topnotch. The writing is as gorgeous and technically sound as it can be. At the end of the day, I think I liked The Glass Town Game. Still, as I went back and forth between thinking like an adult and thinking like a middle schooler while reading this, I just couldn’t figure out who would benefit the most. Other questions that went through my head were, would this book hold the average nine-year-old’s attention for 500+ pages? Or, would an adult fantasy reader be able to look past all the silliness? Because of this, the novel strikes me as a bit confused as to what it wants to accomplish, and that was what hurt it the most, ultimately affecting my overall enjoyment and rating.But for fans of Catherynne M. Valente, I doubt they’d want to miss this. The mixed feelings I have for The Glass Town Game notwithstanding, I can’t fault the beautiful prose, the fanciful imagery, or the author’s magnificent talent for bringing the Brontë children and their world to life. This book is getting filed under “Interesting Experiences” for now, but I’ll definitely continue keeping my eye out for Valente’s future work.
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the atmosphere and the language, but this book was altogether too long! I empathized with the four girls at their fears and dreams, and frequently felt Branwell was a little snot. I, however, just kind of ran out of gas for this story about 200 pages in, and felt like I was heaving each wonderful description over my shoulder just so I could get to the plot. There were several chapters where I struggled to sustain my interest, and took to skimming my way through the remaining 300 or so pa I loved the atmosphere and the language, but this book was altogether too long! I empathized with the four girls at their fears and dreams, and frequently felt Branwell was a little snot. I, however, just kind of ran out of gas for this story about 200 pages in, and felt like I was heaving each wonderful description over my shoulder just so I could get to the plot. There were several chapters where I struggled to sustain my interest, and took to skimming my way through the remaining 300 or so pages just so I could find out how the kids returned home.
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  • Acacia Ives
    January 1, 1970
    Stayed up all night and read it straight through!
  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    The Glass Town Game feels a little like Fairyland-lite. Based on the childhood games and stories of the Brontes, including Branwell, Valente delivers another kind of portal fantasy in which the Brontes find themselves in the middle of their own imagined world. The four are generally fun to follow, though Branwell is rather annoying (probably quite in line with the real Branwell). It’s all very whimsical and charming, but the Fairyland books are better at that, so it didn’t quite work for me; I’v The Glass Town Game feels a little like Fairyland-lite. Based on the childhood games and stories of the Brontes, including Branwell, Valente delivers another kind of portal fantasy in which the Brontes find themselves in the middle of their own imagined world. The four are generally fun to follow, though Branwell is rather annoying (probably quite in line with the real Branwell). It’s all very whimsical and charming, but the Fairyland books are better at that, so it didn’t quite work for me; I’ve seen Valente do it better.That aside, it’s an absorbing read, with so much cleverness, including sly references to the Brontes adult work and little pieces from their biographies, etc. It ticks along at a fine pace, and each of the siblings gets the eye of the narrator on them in turn, dissecting their faults and flaws and cheering for their strengths and cleverness. You can’t quite root for Branwell (though you can understand him), but Charlotte in particular makes an excellent heroine. The first half is a little slower, and might take some getting into, but after the halfway point it picks up pace a lot.If I were recommending somewhere to start with Valente’s work, it wouldn’t be this, but it’s definitely entertaining and beautifully written. It’s more in line with the Fairyland books in terms of style than her adult novels; it doesn’t come across as more poetry than prose, if that’s something which bothers you about her books like Deathless and Palimpsest.Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.
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  • Lenna • Sugar Dusted Pages
    January 1, 1970
    So I accidentally fell head-over-heels in love with this book.Recently I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Valente, and I thought it was pretty much perfect, (as you can see in this casually self-promoted review, if you would like.) Well. This one was even better, which is saying a lot.5 Things About The Glass Town Game1. The writing is gorgeous. I'm convinced it is actually made out of magic and I would like to go live in it, thank you. I love Valente's So I accidentally fell head-over-heels in love with this book.Recently I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Valente, and I thought it was pretty much perfect, (as you can see in this casually self-promoted review, if you would like.) Well. This one was even better, which is saying a lot.5 Things About The Glass Town Game1. The writing is gorgeous. I'm convinced it is actually made out of magic and I would like to go live in it, thank you. I love Valente's writing so, so much. If I could live in it I would. I like it because it's magical and descriptive without being so verbose and dense it's aggravating. (Dramatic, I know, but I get annoyed by aggravatingly verbose writing.) Here are some of my favorite snippets:* Hatred felt like the terrible burning lye soap they used for laundry splashing up onto her heart instead of onto her hands. Well, I would have said books, too, you know, but books are just obvious. That's like saying you like air! Charlotte's lies spooled out like perfect, silken thread, and whatever they touched stuck together fast. I should like to love someone who makes me feel the way I feel when the thunder storms on the moors. You couldn't ever really fix a sad story. You could only make another. And another. And another, until you found the right one at last, the one that ends in joy.Okay, I'm going to stop now before I quote the whole book or start crying again. But seriously. The whole book is a work of art and PLEASE you need to dive in and get lost in the writing too. *All quotes are from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication blah blah etc.2. This book is, admittedly, a tiny bit strange. Okay, um, maybe more than a tiny bit. This book is strange and odd, but I actually think that is one the best things about it. I'll admit I was a little lost for the first couple hundred pages BUT that was because a) I was suffering a major reading slump and b) I was really overwhelmed with school and wasn't letting myself take time to enjoy reading. But! I finally broke out of my reading slump two days ago, and I read 300 pages of this book in one sitting and loved every single word, so I don't think this book was too weird that it wasn't enjoyable. I liked the weirdness and the whimsy. This book isn't odd in a weird way; it's odd in a happy, carefree, whimsical way.  It made me feel happy. But do know that this story is, well, different; there are talking suitcases and wooden soldiers and a Napoleon who rides a rooster. A lot of whether you like this book will depend on just how much whimsy you can handle.3. This book is loaded with metaphors and little Easter eggs that were SO FUN to find. Like all the metaphors about the Napoleonic battles and England. And the way the author discusses death. Another fun thing was seeing famous figures from throughout literary history pop up. The way the Valente portrayed Jane Austen was hiLARIOUS and I am still laughing. We also see Lord Byron who is this brooding eleven-year old poet who quotes himself and falls in love with Emily Bronte. It was all so much fun. At one point there is this cute little exchange: No, Ellis - Emily! I would love you! I would be your husband!" "I'm ten!"  "So?" shouted Lord Byron desperately. "I'm eleven! Emily, my darling, don't be so dramatic. You would be a Baroness, and dance every night, and never want for a single thing!"4. The characters were phenomenally developed.  I'm not an expert on the Bronte kids, but I've read (most of) Jane Eyre and I loved Wuthering Heights, so I know a little bit about Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne. I think the author did a perfect job of showing us a way they might have been when they were all little. Charlotte's character felt like a person who could grow up to write Jane Eyre, for example. Plus it was SO COOL to see how their magical adventures in Glass Town would affect their books - and lives - later on.5. This book feels really old, even though obviously it is not. The writing style and story style reminds me of the classic Victorian fairytales, like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and The Secret Garden. It's not like it's dense or hard to read like classics sometimes are; it's like it's timeless and like it's been here forever. There's just something magical about feeling like you're reading something that was written 100 years ago.One more quick thing: This is a middle grade book, but I think adults would like it just as much (or maybe more) as the target audience. I know I like it much more now than i would have at age 10-12. That's not to say kids won't like it, I just think this story has the potential to resonate deeply with anyone, even though on the surface it may just look like a kid's book.
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  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those wonderful children's books that adults can enjoy even more than children because of the backstory. The four Bronte children invent a game called Glass Town in which their toy soldiers fight against Napoleon. Unexpectedly, the children find themselves in a real Glass Town, which is much like their own creation, though some things are oddly different. Then two of the children are taken captive by Napoleon's men, and the other two much find their siblings before it is too late. This is one of those wonderful children's books that adults can enjoy even more than children because of the backstory. The four Bronte children invent a game called Glass Town in which their toy soldiers fight against Napoleon. Unexpectedly, the children find themselves in a real Glass Town, which is much like their own creation, though some things are oddly different. Then two of the children are taken captive by Napoleon's men, and the other two much find their siblings before it is too late.What a fun ride. It is witty and clever and surprising and delightful. The children and the other historical figures in the tale are just as I've always imagined them, and the plot is filled with little surprises.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    The Glass Town Glass is a lovely little book and the first I've read by Catherynne Valente. It clever weaves together a fantasy portal-type adventure with historical events, real-life figures and the Brontë's fictional creations. The writing is incredibly beautiful and very descriptive. The story-telling style has a whimsical quality which reminded me of Alice in Wonderland or Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore.Valente clearly loves the Brontë's and their work, and this comes through very strongly in th The Glass Town Glass is a lovely little book and the first I've read by Catherynne Valente. It clever weaves together a fantasy portal-type adventure with historical events, real-life figures and the Brontë's fictional creations. The writing is incredibly beautiful and very descriptive. The story-telling style has a whimsical quality which reminded me of Alice in Wonderland or Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore.Valente clearly loves the Brontë's and their work, and this comes through very strongly in the book. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell all feel like complete, well-rounded characters while also being true to the historical accounts of their personalities. There's dozens of nods to their lives (Charlotte & Emily goes undercover at a Glass Town ball as Curran and Ellis Bell, names they originally published under) and little in-jokes towards Wuthering Height, Jane Eyre etc. (the girls say they come from Thurshcross Grange and the suitability of Heathcliff as a heroic name). There are lots of other little cameos -- Byron, Jane Austen, Wellington, Napoleon and Josephine and a young Princess Victoria.Personally, I loved all these little touches and thought they really added to the journey through Glass Town. However, it does leave me a little flummoxed as to who The Glass Town Game is actually aimed at. Its a middle-grade book (and it does this well) but I'm not sure how many of these references most MG readers would catch, and without them, I don't think the book would be quite as enjoyable. My four-star rating is for me personally, but it's probably a three or three-and-a-half if you don't have at least a little background interest in the Brontës.
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  • Suanne Laqueur
    January 1, 1970
    God I love her....
  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    The Bronte siblings go to Fairyland! THE GLASS TOWN GAME is rich in imaginative detail and brimming with Valente's wit and verve. She blends fantasy and historical fiction with ease, creating a thoroughly readable adventure for young and old.
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    Two stars - "it was ok." Maybe 2.5. I really wanted to like this book, since I love the Brontes, I've read the biography, I wrote essays about them in high school and college, I've read Charlotte's juvenilia and Emily's poems. But I did not like the writing style. It was way too full of puns that form the basis of how this magical world works, and made up words so strange I had to pause to even figure out how to think the words. Some other reviewers have expressed they didn't like it but that ma Two stars - "it was ok." Maybe 2.5. I really wanted to like this book, since I love the Brontes, I've read the biography, I wrote essays about them in high school and college, I've read Charlotte's juvenilia and Emily's poems. But I did not like the writing style. It was way too full of puns that form the basis of how this magical world works, and made up words so strange I had to pause to even figure out how to think the words. Some other reviewers have expressed they didn't like it but that maybe a Bronte fan would, but here's a Bronte fan saying "nope!" I pushed myself to read the last half of the book in a couple days to move on to other things. This is the first book I've read by this author, so I can't compare it with her other works. But being a Bronte fan alone isn't a guarantee that you'll like it.
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  • Jenna (Falling Letters)
    January 1, 1970
    New middle grade by Valente? Okay, if you insist on twisting my arm so much, I'll read it. :P
  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineI was hoping that this would be a book that would make the Brontes appealing to a younger generation, but the language and general characterizations didn't quite work for me. I'm not seeing my readers putting up with Branwell or getting into the imaginary game. That said, fantasy is a really hard sell in my library, and I have few students who like Little Women, much less the work on the Brontes. If you have students who have watched PBS' To Walk Invisible E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineI was hoping that this would be a book that would make the Brontes appealing to a younger generation, but the language and general characterizations didn't quite work for me. I'm not seeing my readers putting up with Branwell or getting into the imaginary game. That said, fantasy is a really hard sell in my library, and I have few students who like Little Women, much less the work on the Brontes. If you have students who have watched PBS' To Walk Invisible or have worn out your copies of Jane Eyre, definitely look into this one.
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  • The Library Lady
    January 1, 1970
    There is something in this woman's writing that makes me queasy. I find everything she writes to be precious to the point of twee. Her earlier stuff was marketed as YA, but this 500+ page attack on the Brontes is being labeled as, I guess, fiction for "older elementary students."Now maybe there are some rare, brilliant beyond their years children who will read a 500+ page book that isn't by J.K Rowling. Perhaps they are the same ones who will know all about the Brontes, their childhood play with There is something in this woman's writing that makes me queasy. I find everything she writes to be precious to the point of twee. Her earlier stuff was marketed as YA, but this 500+ page attack on the Brontes is being labeled as, I guess, fiction for "older elementary students."Now maybe there are some rare, brilliant beyond their years children who will read a 500+ page book that isn't by J.K Rowling. Perhaps they are the same ones who will know all about the Brontes, their childhood play with toy soldiers and imaginary kingdoms, and will get all the allusions.|And if you are one of those nice, brilliant young folk, don't bother to write me an indignant rebuttal here. Bless your heart, but you are NOT the average reader, you are the sort of reader who would read the back of a medicine bottle if there were no other reading matter. And why would my opinion matter to you anyway?But mostly this is aimed at the same silly 20 somethings who read the rest of Valente's crap--perhaps some of whom have managed to read a Bronte or two, or at least have seen some of the film versions. And I am sure they will be putting up their "OMG, this is the BEST book ever!" reviews, complete with stupid little GIFS.As for me, I am going to have to be more careful, because I wasted money on this sucker, and wasn't smart enough to note the author's name. Clearly I was reading reviews one afternoon after I'd done several story hours in the morning, and was too tired to spot it.Bleh!
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  • Clare
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite living author writing a story about my favorite historical authors. There are no words for how in I was from the word go.And yet upon completing The Glass Town Game, I'm of two minds about it. I completely loved it. I have yet to read a Valente novel I didn't find beautiful and strange and compelling. And I've read the collected works of the Bronte sisters, watched documentaries, read biographies, wrote an undergraduate thesis. I love these women, and it gave me so much gratification My favorite living author writing a story about my favorite historical authors. There are no words for how in I was from the word go.And yet upon completing The Glass Town Game, I'm of two minds about it. I completely loved it. I have yet to read a Valente novel I didn't find beautiful and strange and compelling. And I've read the collected works of the Bronte sisters, watched documentaries, read biographies, wrote an undergraduate thesis. I love these women, and it gave me so much gratification to see all the references to history and their stories.But. I'm not sure how much this book would work for people who don't fangirl/fanboy the Brontes. It's still beautiful and strange, and a compelling narrative of four children coming to terms with the loss of their mother and sisters, and with death in general as a fact of life. But there's a lot of moments where I can't help but think a reader not in the know will get the idea that they're missing something and find it irritating.That didn't stop me from purchasing a second copy to slip into my classroom library, though. Have some confusion, kids.
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    Much like her The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making series, Glass Town is full of whimsy. And there's just the right amount of literary nose tapping for those of us who know our British lit, while still being approachable to middle graders not yet familiar with the Brontes, Lord Byron, or Jane Austen (all characters that appear). In Glass Town, the Brontes become sucked into their own recreation of the Napoleonic Wars, but now all their toy soldiers are real. And the Much like her The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making series, Glass Town is full of whimsy. And there's just the right amount of literary nose tapping for those of us who know our British lit, while still being approachable to middle graders not yet familiar with the Brontes, Lord Byron, or Jane Austen (all characters that appear). In Glass Town, the Brontes become sucked into their own recreation of the Napoleonic Wars, but now all their toy soldiers are real. And then Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, and it's up to Charlotte and Emily to save them.Does anyone really need anymore from a review than a synopsis of the book? If a middle grade about the young Bronte siblings transported to their created world of Glass Town doesn't make you squeal, than this is probably a skip for you.A fun, whimsical read.
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  • Marti
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the writing because, com'on, we're talking about Valente. The basic concept was adorable, like coming out straight from a childhood fairytale. The big problem with it was the fact that it was long, kinda boring after a while, maybe because there were thing that bored me down. I found myself skipping pages just to know how the kids were going to go back home. A pity.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I MUST HAVE IT
  • Joanie
    January 1, 1970
    'Once, four children called Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell lived all together in a village called Haworth in the very farthest, steepest, highest, northenest bit of England. Their house stood snugly at the very farthest, steepest, highest bit of the village, just behind the church and the crowded graveyard, for their father was the parson. Every Sunday he stood up in the chapel and told the tightly buttoned people of Haworth all about the wonders of a buttoned-up heaven and the dangers of 'Once, four children called Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell lived all together in a village called Haworth in the very farthest, steepest, highest, northenest bit of England. Their house stood snugly at the very farthest, steepest, highest bit of the village, just behind the church and the crowded graveyard, for their father was the parson. Every Sunday he stood up in the chapel and told the tightly buttoned people of Haworth all about the wonders of a buttoned-up heaven and the dangers of this buttoned-down earth. The four of them were mostly looked after by their Aunt Elizabeth and their maidservant, Tabitha, for a parson has very little time for children, what with all that worrying about heaven and earth and buttoning, both up and down. But oftener and oftener, they looked after each other, which suited them very well.' When I spotted this book in stores so many months ago, I was absolutely delighted. I knew Catherynne M. Valente would deliver on this wonderful premise: the four Brontës (yes, that includes Branwell) on a fantastical adventure in a land of their own creation. And so it did! It was quite surreal to read about these children when one is quite acquainted with their real life histories and accomplishments (and tragedies), and often there were many moving moments interspersed with the wordplay and humour and the joy that comes from all the surprising characters and antics these four got up to. It is more geared to a younger audience, so fair warning, but I find that as an adult, so much of it struck new tones that only we could distinguish and appreciate. This one would be a lot of fun for children, especially to read out loud, but the reality beyond the pages lends itself well to a re-read in later years. 'There had been more of them, once. They used to be six. Maria and Lizzie, older than Charlotte, with matching fiery brown eyes and red cheeks and big, rolling voices. All the girls but Anne had gone merrily off to school together, but Lizzie and Marie caught matching fiery fevers and what came back in the carriage with poor Emily and poor Charlotte they'd buried in the churchyard. It was too big a thing to hold in their heads all at once [...] They had to go on living, one foot in front of the other. How could anyone do that knowing something so unfathomably heavy and silent was just hanging above you all the time, with nothing to keep it from plummeting toward you without a bit of warning? All they could face in the night was a few soft beams of moonlight through the window, and the knowledge that they would never be six again.' Now, I'll admit that I'm quite partial to Anne, as the forgotten sister out of the trio, and I was absolutely delighted with the parts she had to play in the story! However, I think there's something for each one of the Brontës, no matter which one is your favourite. I liked that they all functioned as a quartet no matter what was going on - there wasn't a main character that rose above. The dynamics between the siblings were balanced well. I felt like I was there with them when they were making up stories and fighting over characters and trying to live their own lives in their own worlds away from the sadness that life kept handing them. The losses never quite go away even if they try not to dwell on them too much. They used to be six. '"New worlds just...come on in the dark like fireflies. Every time a choice between two roads is made, a universe fires up to follow each path. Every time a war begins or ends. Every time a child huddles up in his room imagining stories for his dolls. Nothing is too small to create a world, the theory goes. Each beautiful in its way. Some as similar to ours as twins. Some so strange that they would be, to us, as we are to lantern fish under the sea. Some even speculate that what we call heaven and hell are merely other worlds such as this, and death is but a swift carriage from here to there.'" This one's curled up quite comfortably in my heart and squeezed a few tears from me too by the time it ended. And what an ending. There is something to books where the love the author has for the inspiration behind it comes across so clearly. Valente herself got to play with all these characters and stories with all the joy the Brontës themselves must've felt with their tiny soldiers. This is a loving tribute not only to the words the Brontës have left us, but to the power of imagination.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    So I just wrote a review of this. And Goodreads did not save it. So I am mad AF. Expect a review from me in the next couple of days.So uhh, it has not been the next couple of days, more like the next couple of weeks. And yay I'm finally reviewing this book. It's been a bit, so this review may not be as good as my original one. Why Goodreads, why? I overall enjoyed the book. It was a weird, yet fantastical read, with (mostly) great characters, and not to mention a gorgeous writing style. I had mi So I just wrote a review of this. And Goodreads did not save it. So I am mad AF. Expect a review from me in the next couple of days.So uhh, it has not been the next couple of days, more like the next couple of weeks. And yay I'm finally reviewing this book. It's been a bit, so this review may not be as good as my original one. Why Goodreads, why? I overall enjoyed the book. It was a weird, yet fantastical read, with (mostly) great characters, and not to mention a gorgeous writing style. I had mixed feelings about it at first, but as time went on, I grew to love it, despite annoyances. Annoyances that brought it down from a possible 5 but probably 4 star read to a 3 star read. Maybe even lower. The writing style was flawless. I simply loved it. It described thing in detail, yet they were things I wanted to know more about. I don't care about the table and the chandelier, I know what that looks like. I do care about that strange exotic food that they're eating. Catherynne M. Valente did a great job of describing things that actually mattered. And she did it in such a simple, but detailed way? She didn't push the descriptions too far, but it was enough to make it feel whimsical. I will definitely be reading more of Catherynne M. Valente's works, because it is simply to die for. (Although I wouldn't want to die, because then I wouldn't be able to read more of her books). I wanted to live in the world. She could've written a 1000 paged book all about this world and I think I'd read the entire thing. The world had some very Alice in Wonderland vibes, and it had that whimsicalness that I often find lacking in YA books. I thought everything the kids dreamt up were awesome, and they reminded me of the worlds I created as a young kid. Everything was so different and unexpected, but it had a certain charm to it that I just adored. However, I was pretty annoyed in the first 100 pages in which they were in the real world, because it seemed like a bunch of build up for nothing, since they spent most of the time in the Glass Town, and I feel like Catherynne M. Valente could've gotten rid of a chapter or two, because it was a bit slow at the beginning. Now, if you've read this far, you're probably wondering: if you seemed to like this book so much, why only 3 stars? And that, my dear friends is because of Branwell. Branwell was the most self-centered, egotistical, patronizing, bratty kid I'd ever read about. And it wasn't just that he started out that way, and started to change how he acted. NO HE HAD TO STAY THAT WAY THE ENTIRE BOOK. He made so many sexist comments, and how he needed to protect his sisters, and didn't feel manly enough unless he did so, and he was the important one. And I find this whole ordeal ironic because if it weren't for his sisters, he wouldn't even be in this book. Had the Bronte sisters never gotten popular, then he wouldn't be known. After all, not many people have even heard of Branwell. Heck, I had to google him, and even then the results were kinda obscure. Talk about important one. That being said, I loved the sisters. Had the story not included Branwell, it could've been a 4 or 5 star read. I do understand that Branwell presented other ways of viewing the problem at hand, but the way he did it was just not a way I enjoyed. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (my sweet cinnamon roll who could possibly take over an entire country) were badass. Very. I bet they could set their minds to anything if they wanted. They grew so much throughout the entire novel, especially Anne, and I loved watching them and seeing them grow into the strong women they became. They were likeable characters, yet not completely black and white, and had different elements to them. I find this a problem in middle grade books, where characters are more like characters than human. They just seem so one dimensional. The characters in this book were not. And I loved the side characters. They were written so interestingly and they actually provided a part in the story, unlike other books in which side characters are practically nonexistent. However, I do find it a tad bit extreme for some kids to be accomplishing all these tasks, but since it is a book, and it is meant to inspire other kids and cultivate their imagination. And the illustrations were amazing. I really thought they added to the story, and made it seem more whimsical. I wish there were more, and I would love to have a colored poster of one of the pictures in my room. (Minus Branwell, that is).So in the end, I think I enjoyed this book. It may not be for you, depending on your age, but I think it's written very well for it's age group. I'm happy I read it, even though it caused me plenty pain and anguish with Branwell, but I don't regret picking it up. It really was fascinating, and I might just reread it one day.
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  • Marzie
    January 1, 1970
    I was fortunate to receive an Advance Review Copy of this book. And I mean way fortunate because my requests on both Net Galley and Edelweiss Plus are still "pending" (i.e. in limbo) for the past two months. Luck was mine with a paper ARC! Also to note: This book was reviewed without the accompanying artwork.So if you know me, you know I have loved Cat Valente's works ever since I first opened The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden in 2007. To be honest, I would read her cereal box blurbs if sh I was fortunate to receive an Advance Review Copy of this book. And I mean way fortunate because my requests on both Net Galley and Edelweiss Plus are still "pending" (i.e. in limbo) for the past two months. Luck was mine with a paper ARC! Also to note: This book was reviewed without the accompanying artwork.So if you know me, you know I have loved Cat Valente's works ever since I first opened The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden in 2007. To be honest, I would read her cereal box blurbs if she wrote them and I would listen to her soothing voice read the telephone book (yellow pages, please). Whether her lyrical Orphan's Tales, the whimsy of her Fairyland books or the clever Russian folklore meets Soviet Russia mashup Deathless, I've loved just about everything she's put her keyboard to, including her Twitter feed. With that said, this is a very odd book to me. It's marked as Middle Grade Fiction, ages 10 and up. I can't really see it as a book for a 10 year old, however, as its structure and language seem far too sophisticated for a ten or eleven year old child. It might not be picked up by young adults, either, because let's face it, toy soldiers are not popular with many teens these days. As I say below, I settled on its being a book for families.The Glass Town Game features a fictionalized story about the four real-life Brontë siblings, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell. As Judith Shulevitz said last year in The Atlantic , the amount of related work, whether biographical or fictional, related to the Brontës is something of a cult. This book might well be a get 'em early story, to hook children's interest on this famous literary family. It is like a story (their creation, a world of make-believe) within a story (Valente's creation), and is quite clever and beautifully written. I can't wait to hear it read aloud. It begs to be read aloud. There are aspects of a truly classic children's story here, a kind of portal fantasy with the depth and complexity that you don't often see. What I'm not sure of, however, is whether it works as a piece of juvenilia for its target audience. I think a lot of the book is largely going to be lost on children, but I'm not sure adults, especially Brontë-loving adults, will pick the book up for themselves and enjoy it as the very sophisticated children's book that it is intended to be, either. My conclusion is that this is the sort of book that you read aloud to and with your children, and intersperse with little details like Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre and Villette, Emily wrote Wuthering Heights , Anne The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Branwell was an artist, and here, have a look at their house in Haworth, look at this picture of Charlotte, etc. The beastly Cowan Bridge School (which sadly lived on well into the 21st Century as Casterton School, rather than falling to the fate the children envision or create) can be pointed out as informing Jane Eyre's miserable experience at Lowood School, and the death of her beloved friend Helen was clearly an expression of the deaths of Charlotte's sisters Maria and Lizzie. And so on... Hopefully enough of it will lodge in the brains of a middle schooler that they will feel a familiarity when reading the Brontë sisters' works later on. Goal accomplished!In conclusion, this book and its plot structure and language are everything I love about Cat Valente's writing. I'm not sure it's a read-alone children's book, though, even for Middle Grade children. So I hope enough grownup readers will share it with their children to help it gain the appreciation it deserves. It's truly the perfect family reading night book.
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  • Madeline
    January 1, 1970
    Four Children, Two armies, One Unbelievable Story“Each of them had a criminal specialty, a particular wickedness they could never resist.”The Brontё children spend most of their days in the room at the top of the stairs. In this roomthey’ve created a magical world with their wooden soldiers. A world where Wellington andNapoleon are still in the middle of a great war. A world with complex characters and storylines.A world where no one dies. A world called Glass Town.  The Glass Town Game  by Cath Four Children, Two armies, One Unbelievable Story“Each of them had a criminal specialty, a particular wickedness they could never resist.”The Brontё children spend most of their days in the room at the top of the stairs. In this roomthey’ve created a magical world with their wooden soldiers. A world where Wellington andNapoleon are still in the middle of a great war. A world with complex characters and storylines.A world where no one dies. A world called Glass Town.  The Glass Town Game  by CatherynneValente is a beautiful story of the power of imagination. Starring Charlotte Brontё and hersiblings, this novel is a captivating and full of emotions. All the children want is to play their game but the eldest sisters are growing up. They areforced to go to school. The same school their older sisters went to. The same older sisters thatbecame sick and never came back. Fearing they will suffer from the same fate, the children areafraid to go. However upon their arrival at the train station they come across a strange sight. Theconductor and the engineer of the train are their wooden soldiers. The children, who are verycurious what their toys are doing conducting a train, hop on. They are transported to a magicalworld where everything they ever made up is real. Napoleon is alive as ever and his army isattacking the city of Port Ruby. Yet their perfect word got a bit confused. Napoleon’s army isliterally made up of frogs and their suitcases can come alive and change into any form they wish.Not long after they arrive the children are thrown headfirst into the war. Wellington’s army oflimes requests that they deliver a spy made of book and magazine pages to a faraway city. Oncethey get there though, the book man captures the youngest siblings and the older sisters, Emilyand Charlotte, are left to rescue them.This book is full of adventure and passion. Valente’s beautiful and flowery writing stylebrings to life the fantastical  characters and mystifying places. The small details and interestingside stories bring life to the story. The characters feel real and you will become attached to them.The theme of imagination throughout the novel gives it a light and funny note and the youngnarrators give it a unique point of view. I would recommend this novel to anyone that loves agood fairytale adventure. This book is a great read and will leave you dazzled.
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  • Renée Dominique
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of Valente's since Deathless blew me away when I read it a few years ago. On the strength of that book I too would read even a ketchup bottle label penned by her. I wanted so badly to love The Glass Town Game—imagine my disappointment. There's so much to like about Valente's writing style and affection for the Brontë siblings—yes, even horrible, bratty Branwell. The vivid descriptions of the children's world and imagery she evokes leaves the reader with no doubts as far as Valente I'm a huge fan of Valente's since Deathless blew me away when I read it a few years ago. On the strength of that book I too would read even a ketchup bottle label penned by her. I wanted so badly to love The Glass Town Game—imagine my disappointment. There's so much to like about Valente's writing style and affection for the Brontë siblings—yes, even horrible, bratty Branwell. The vivid descriptions of the children's world and imagery she evokes leaves the reader with no doubts as far as Valente's prowess with words go. The way The Glass Town Game is written is intentionally reminiscent of the Brontë sisters' works and other literature from that age, including Dickens and even Austen, whom Valente wrote into this book and characterizes as a nagging, gossipy shrew—a choice that might inadvertently alienate the cross-section of Austen and Valente fans, whom I'm sure exist in no small number. Unfortunately, the book is high on dazzle and low on substance. The plot is shoe-horned around the whimsical details of the world that Valente built—granted, it's a very interesting, detailed world, and half the fun is learning the internal logic the world's rules follow along with the Brontë's. But with the plot secondary, and the characters drawn as broad caricatures of their real-life counterparts, it's hard to invest much in them. The siblings all have interesting personality traits, but the girls especially are so similar that it was sometimes difficult for me to remember what trait belonged to whom. And further to that (perhaps in the spirit of writing for children), Valente often employed the "tell, don't show" method of writing and spent endless time emphasizing the characters' quirks rather than letting the reader infer from their actions what they were about. Bram being the most unlikable character of all might have done better with more chance to develop into either a redemption arc or the true antagonist of The Glass Town Game, but never does. It occurred to me near the end of the book that maybe Valente, writing for a younger audience, figured that kids and teens can't differentiate the good guys from the bad without emphatic direction—which any tween reader can tell you just isn't true. If she wasn't writing for a younger audience, all the effort spent infusing The Glass Town Game with precocious charm and childlike wonder makes the lack of complex plotting and character-writing even more reprehensible. Either way, it let me down, especially knowing that Valente can and has done better.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    i am sad to report i found this book quite overlong and underplotted... Valente does love her some flowery language and colorful descriptions, but this book quickly grew tiresome with them... and don't get me started on that capitalization thing... sheesh... my wife and i all it "creative with a k" (not actually creative but kreative, like not creative at all but something you could google to use as a writing trope), a bit snarky but it kinda fits here sadly... just too much fluff and not enough i am sad to report i found this book quite overlong and underplotted... Valente does love her some flowery language and colorful descriptions, but this book quickly grew tiresome with them... and don't get me started on that capitalization thing... sheesh... my wife and i all it "creative with a k" (not actually creative but kreative, like not creative at all but something you could google to use as a writing trope), a bit snarky but it kinda fits here sadly... just too much fluff and not enough story... sounded like a great idea actual literature beings caught up in their own fictional world-game... the names were fun, and there is plenty of imagination throughout, but it stalls rather early on in the game... we never get any idea what the rules of the game are, and the bits and bobs we do get are so completely buried in dense verbiage (OMG did i just disparage Catherynne M. Valente for what she is heralded for?!?!?) that it's hard to follow... just entire paragraphs of adjectives strung together with no point to them but to see how many ways the author can describe purple, or yellow, or red (puce, ochre, scarlet, violet, gold, crimson)... her Fairyland books use the descriptions as plot devices superbly, here they seem like they ARE the plot... just a dull read... once you know what Valente can do (and i doubt this is the first book people start with in her catalog, and i hope it's not too!) it gets old and dull without a STORY... color me disappointed... black with sadness, ebony with disgust, charcoal-ed ennui... you get the idea...
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  • Shoshana
    January 1, 1970
    Valente's writing is a thing of sheer beauty. I noticed a lot of other reviews expressing concern about the ages this book is marketed toward, and their comprehension of the material. One thing I love about this book IS its flexibility to its readership. Will 10 year-olds understand all the puns and literary references woven into the text? No, probably not. But his/her parents will, if they're reading with them, or an adult can if s/he decides to pick it up (which they should, because it's magni Valente's writing is a thing of sheer beauty. I noticed a lot of other reviews expressing concern about the ages this book is marketed toward, and their comprehension of the material. One thing I love about this book IS its flexibility to its readership. Will 10 year-olds understand all the puns and literary references woven into the text? No, probably not. But his/her parents will, if they're reading with them, or an adult can if s/he decides to pick it up (which they should, because it's magnificent). The 10 year-old, instead, will enjoy the adventure, the characters of the siblings and the soldiers, and the plot of two warring kingdoms and a magical substance. And yes, it will take an advanced/sophisticated young reader to appreciate the language, as the writing does have a certain density to it, but that is another thing that makes Valente's children's books so great. A precocious young reader, who maybe whips through chapter books daily, will be slowed by "The Glass Town Game," and get a real taste of the variety of writing voices that exists. I know I frequently sell the Fairyland series to advanced young readers because the text is clean of "content" (graphic violence, sex, drugs, and other very dark subjects) but will still present a challenge. Personally speaking, my only qualm with this book was how vilified Branwell was - he had an air of Edmund, from the Narnia series. I've done a lot of reading on the Brontes, and feel that Branwell is frequently over-simplified into a negative character, when he was really more complex. That said, I think Valente did a great job illustrating how his selfishness warred with his feelings of goodness in a way that will be very relatable for children.
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  • Misti
    January 1, 1970
    On the day when Charlotte and Emily are to go back to their terrible boarding school, the four Brontë siblings (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne) are whisked away instead to Glasstown, the country of their own making -- but even their fertile imaginations couldn't come up with some of the wild things that happen to them there!I'm DNF'ing books all over the place lately, it seems! This is another one where I got a fair ways into it before giving up. To its credit, the writing is great and the On the day when Charlotte and Emily are to go back to their terrible boarding school, the four Brontë siblings (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne) are whisked away instead to Glasstown, the country of their own making -- but even their fertile imaginations couldn't come up with some of the wild things that happen to them there!I'm DNF'ing books all over the place lately, it seems! This is another one where I got a fair ways into it before giving up. To its credit, the writing is great and the fantasy setting fully realized. There's some top-notch wordplay going on, and lots of sly winks to readers who know their Brit Lit. I had two main problems with the book. First of all, it's just. So. Long. I was listening to the audio version, which doesn't help, but I had even felt some trepidation when I saw the hardcover, before I checked the audiobook out. My second problem was that Branwell was written as a nasty little brat, and reading about him was distasteful. Maybe, like Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he would have his moment of redemption later in the book -- but for the first half, at least, I felt like he was just there to be hated.Though written as a children's fantasy, I think this book will find its true audience among Valente's many fans. I just couldn't quite manage to stick with it.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley. "The Glass Town Game" is a new children's fantasy from Catherynne Valente, author of the gorgeous Fairyland series. The book follows the young Bronte siblings--Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne as a routine trip back to school detours into something far more exciting. Suddenly, the worlds that the children have imagined in their games are real, and what results is an adventure reminiscent of Narnia, Oz, and Valente's own Fairyland. This is an odd book. As Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley. "The Glass Town Game" is a new children's fantasy from Catherynne Valente, author of the gorgeous Fairyland series. The book follows the young Bronte siblings--Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne as a routine trip back to school detours into something far more exciting. Suddenly, the worlds that the children have imagined in their games are real, and what results is an adventure reminiscent of Narnia, Oz, and Valente's own Fairyland. This is an odd book. As other reviewers have said, there is a sometimes strange mix of maturity and childishness. The writing is beautiful and magical and everything we've come to expect from Valente. The story skews far younger, with the young protagonists dealing with situations such as toy soldiers come to life. There are a lot of literary references that might go over younger children's heads, but are fun to read as an adult. I don't know much about the Bronte's as children, and so it was also fun to see Valente's conception of what their personalities might have been. There are some wonderful family moments scattered throughout the book as well. Readers who enjoyed Valente's other books, especially her Fairyland series, should give "The Glass Town Game" a try. I think that it would be an especially good book for reading aloud to children, since the language is beautiful but perhaps slightly complicated for younger readers.
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  • Lark
    January 1, 1970
    I could not resist picking up Cat Valente's newest book. In her The Bread We Eat In Dreams, she also has a similar concept with the Bronte children. I believe this novel branched out from that short story.In typical Valente fashion, there is beautiful prose, heartbreak and death, wonderful descriptions, whimsical fancy, things that speak very true to the essence of my soul. I love the idea that the stories we write are a world within their own. And yet, the characters come to life beyond the aut I could not resist picking up Cat Valente's newest book. In her The Bread We Eat In Dreams, she also has a similar concept with the Bronte children. I believe this novel branched out from that short story.In typical Valente fashion, there is beautiful prose, heartbreak and death, wonderful descriptions, whimsical fancy, things that speak very true to the essence of my soul. I love the idea that the stories we write are a world within their own. And yet, the characters come to life beyond the author's deign. I loved the bits about the horrors of rewriting a person versus death; about horrible people who cannot help but being horrible.There are so many things that are fabulous in this book. It does drag a little too long in the middle though, despite it making sense for the book. I suspect that is the nature of most Cat Valente books though, due to the lengthiness of the prose.Overall, 3.5 stars.
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