Sea of Glass by Rebecca Gransden – 4/5 Stars

Sea of Glass by Rebecca Gransden - Front Cover

What’s it about?

It’s a twisted dark game: a battle between good and evil after an unknown sense-messing explosion. Kattar takes refuge in a building, taking granted ‘what is’, and he only wants to find the exit, for there is danger lurking within the tower.

First impressions

I did find the premise to be interesting: someone trapped in a glass tower looking for the exit, and I wondered if I was reading some form of visionary crime thriller, though the reviews told me otherwise. First impressions were of surreal oddness, smacking of retro science fiction style. Something was happening, and I wasn’t sure what, beyond a sense of chaos and crazy irrelevant characters made relevant by such statements as ‘there’s not much sense around’, and objects made convenient by their bizarre lack of convenience, with an old man’s glasses for example. I rather think this style continued throughout, and it was unusual.

Next, we behold a sense of wonder. What situation is Kattar in exactly? He’s trapped in a building because of a black cloud caused by the explosion of a white van, causing the building to be in lockdown, and he can’t get to the areas he usually does. It turns out he actually works in the building as a cleaner. Kattar was already a part of the building and whatever happens in it before the start of the novella. Surely, it can only be in lockdown for a temporary period of time, and so we’re introduced to a fascinating series of events that may play out, but we’re still not sure what exactly. Will there be a mass killer on the loose and he has to find the exit? Have they no rooms for him to stay in during the night?

Praise

Imagery in Sea of Glass could make you cringe, hide, vomit, or gaze in stupefied, fascinated terror. And that’s before you’re introduced to what may be happening in the tower. There is fear, pervasive inability to escape, and ruthless punishment. The rest is the reader’s surprise!

The author should write more of this fiction, being unique, entertaining, stimulating, and macabre. The premise was excellent, which helped. The imagery and description was the most gruesome I’d ever read. Kattar’s experiences were eye opening, all the better described and imaginative for being nonsensical and of dubious relevance.

I’m feeling two things about the existence of Rebecca Gransden’s fiction: elation it exists, and concern.

Criticism

As a novella, I’m unsure how well the story worked. My impression was one of vivid, yet fleeting images, much of it deliberately nonsensical as a result of the style. It could be that I was not used to the symbolism and the metaphorical language, leaving me in the dark. There were a few passages I had to reread, and this didn’t always bother me unless I couldn’t fathom the subject. I believe this was personal taste; I don’t know how the existence of the symbolism and metaphorical language could be changed.

We weren’t given opportunity to explore some aspects as much as I’d have liked. Some reviewers commented on how the places could have been described with more clarity, and I think I agree. In the theatre, I still wasn’t sure what was where. A bit more time for Kattar to take his bearings before the author describes them may have helped me develop a clearer image.

Author’s message

There was, I believe, with the poetical and metaphorical language and digressions, a corporate thread or message in Sea of Glass and I wasn’t sure exactly what was being shown, but perhaps the twisted, hellish, sadistic, broken-relationship that can exist in such environments. There were characters with their own selfish agendas and realms within the building that differed enormously. That theatre was sinister! I’d quite like to hear more about author Rebecca Gransden’s message.

Conclusion

Sea of Glass was an experience in reading a style I haven’t come across, with writing that has a sense of shocking immediacy and scenes that bend so far away from reality it makes you wonder why it is you’re so engrossed in them. Author Rebecca Gransden is wielding some powerful writing material.

Read more of author Rebecca Gransden’s writing

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