Spirits of Glory by Emily Devenport
Goodreads: Spirits of Glory
Source: Free Smashwords copy from author in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: One morning the people of the North woke up and the people of the South were gone. That s the first thing every child learns on the colony world of Jigsaw. But for one girl, knowing about The Disappearance is not enough. Hawkeye wants to know why.
That’s why she spent half her life researching The Disappearance. And that’s also why eight Neighbors show up on her doorstep, demanding that she accompany them into the Forbidden Cities ruled by the Southern gods to speak with the Spirits of Glory. Everyone thinks Hawkeye is an expert on Neighbors, these almost-humans who move, talk, and think as if they were born inside one of the Time Fractures. But she can’t imagine what they want to ask the ghosts of their ancestors, or why they need her to go along. The Southern gods caused every human inhabitant of the Southern cities to disappear overnight; what else might they do?
But the Northern gods say Hawkeye should go and her curiosity won’t let her refuse, even though she’s going into more danger than she can imagine. Pain and puzzlement wait along the broken interstate, along with scavengers who want to kill them all. Hawkeye’s questions only generate more questions as they move farther and farther into the South, right into the heart of the Disappearance, until Hawkeye’s questions have all been answered.
Even the ones she was afraid to ask.
Review: When Spirits of Glory begins, the plotline is rather confusing. Hawkeye is standing on her porch. Her pets seem to be uncannily aware of what is happening. People, Neighbors (whatever they are) and one human woman, are coming toward her. They want her help immediately with some immense project, mentioning gods and the South and time fractures.
Don’t panic! Just a couple chapters in, the pieces start coming together, and then the story gets really interesting. The people in the South of the planet vanished centuries ago—and no one really knows why. The description of this disappearance is deliciously creepy, and the protagonists’ search through the abandoned Forbidden Cities in the south is, as well. Readers will find themselves looking over their shoulders as often as Hawkeye and making sure their lights are turned on bright. Nothing is particularly threatening in this book, but there is definitely something wrong. The mystery is captivating.
Equally compelling is the bond that develops between the characters. Humans and Neighbors are not often friends. They do not understand each other, and Neighbors are generally unwilling to answer enough questions to clear up any misunderstandings. Why is not really part of their vocabulary. Hawkeye, however, manages to break through the barriers that separate them in order to befriend them. Her previous study of their culture and habits helps, but ultimately it is her own personality—smart, fun-loving, loyal, and mature—that wins them over. They make a fantastic team that readers will be cheering on every step of the way, whether in romance, friendship, or solving the great Disappearance. And Hawkeye by herself is an awesomely strong female protagonist.
The one real oddity of this book is Hawkeye’s frequent trips to the bathroom. At first, it seems Devenport’s attempt at realism; Hawkeye finds a toilet at literally every stage of their journey, and only once or twice does the scene even pretend to have any relation to the plot. Eventually Hawkeye makes so many trips to relieve herself that it seems as if must be Davenport’s idea of a joke. Hawkeye even kids at the moment of the big “reveal” that it might be “anti-climatic,” but she would like to use a restroom. It really was more anti-climatic than funny, and the whole thing gave the impression Hawkeye had bladder problems, even though she used the restroom at completely normal intervals.
Once Hawkeye returned to the climactic moment, things become a bit confusing again. Hawkeye is fascinating to the gods and integral to their plans for the world, but the reason she is so important is ambiguous. The final impression is that it is because she is just such a unique human being. Whether this explanation has merit is somewhat debatable.
The story itself, however, is ultimately so absorbing, so well-written, and so imaginative, that the question of whether the gods’ motives bear scrutiny becomes essentially irrelevant. The reader is likely to take them at face value. If not, the book’s wrap-up will blow him away so he forgets all about it. The conclusion is beautiful—not perfect and clean, but immensely satisfying. And hugely surprising.
Anyone who wants a unique, skillfully executed read (at an unbeatable price!) will not be disappointed by Spirits of Glory.