A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
hardcover edition 2017
In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare–wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear–at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .
“To identify any aspect of this book is necessarily to sing its praises. The characters are engrossing, their relationships moving and lovely; Neverfell’s innocence and capacity for love and kindness carry her through enormous social upheavals, while the mystery of her lost memory burns hot and furious and hidden inside her. But above anything else what astonished me about A Face Like Glass was its construction, its pure perfect pace, the mechanical gravity of its plot moving through its beat with meticulously crafted finesse… A Face Like Glass is everything like magic.”–Amal El-Mohtar, NPR