Heart of Glass, by Sasha Gould

YA author Sasha Gould recently released Heart of Glass, the sequel to last year's well-received historical novel Cross My Heart. I found this installment less interesting than Gould's first, but it was still well-written and solidly researched (and blessed with much less Vegas-y cover art).

Heart of Glass opens in Venice, 1585, three months after the events of Cross My Heart. 16-year-old Laura della Scalla has solved her sister's murder, she is happily betrothed to the Doge's son Roberto, and she remains a member of the Segreta, an underground society of women who trade in secrets. Her life is enviable—until a dead woman is discovered in Roberto's rooms, the Segreta seems to fail her, and all of Venice is threatened by the disturbingly handsome Prince Halim, an envoy from the Ottoman Empire.

The most memorable thing about Gould's first book was its historically accurate and hugely creepy antagonist: Laura's father. A weak, selfish bully, he saw no disconnect between ordering his daughter around like a small child and simultaneously deciding that she was the perfect age to get married to an ancient, lecherous merchant. As an adult reader, I found her father's total power over Laura far more disturbing than any werewolf or vampire could be—the fact that women were (and, in many parts of the world, still are) treated as a commodity makes for a great horror premise.

Unfortunately, Heart of Glass didn't quite live up to the promise of Cross My Heart. It was still a perfectly respectable installment, but the heroine's plight was less moving, the bad guys more mustache-twirly, and the historical setting—apart from some seriously disturbing shout-outs to 16th century torture methods—less thoroughly explored. I still enjoyed reading it, and I'll totally buy any additional books in the series, but I'm hoping Gould's future installments return to the idea that the scariest villains are the ones that hold the most power over us.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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