The Glass Spare, Book 1

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Glass Spare, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Fans of magical fantasy will enjoy absorbing tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Raises questions that may be answered if the planned second volume of the story is released about how to know if someone's trustworthy, and whether love can be real when it's based on a lie. Family bonds and loyalty to country are very important, but what do you do when kings lead their countries down a destructive path, especially if the king is your father?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wil, who turns 16 during the story, is a great role model for family loyalty, bravery, resourcefulness, for wanting to do her part for her father the king, and for wanting to make sure her newly discovered power can't hurt anyone. Loom, 17, is a good role model for wanting to make his country a better place for all its people. He thinks the ends justify the means, though, and takes drastic action against his father, also a king, which gets him banished. But he doesn't stop trying to make things better from the outside. Both characters have friends and family who are loyal and supportive and others who want to do them harm.


Fights with punching, kicking, choking, and daggers (sometimes poisoned). Blood is mentioned but not described in detail. Rare, brief gore includes mentioning the sound of bones cracking. Pain is described in some detail. Fantasy violence includes attacks with magical powers that turn people into gemstones. A father wishes he had killed his daughter long ago and threatens to slit her throat. Attacking marauders use explosives and set fires. Speculation that a teen is being captured for human trafficking. Characters occasionally in peril from drowning, being captured, and being beheaded. A past incident mentioned when young children were forced to fight each other to the death. A character is shackled and taken captive. Mention of guns with special bullets that poison and paralyze.


A few kisses and feelings of attraction and love. A man looks at a teen's chest and hints at sexual favors. A man thinks a teen is turned over to him for sexual favors and says he doesn't like young girls; someone calls him a deviant for those thoughts.


"Hells," rarely.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens in a fantasy world with no drinking age mentioned drink a few sips of a spirit that burns going down. Fantasy sleep serums, paralytics, and pain killers are used in medicine and in weapons. There's a pain medication that "knocks you out" called "morfin." Main character Wil doesn't like the foggy feeling in her mind after she's given pain medication.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Glass Spare is a magical fantasy by author Lauren DeStefano of the popular The Chemical Garden trilogy. There's some violence, including hand-to-hand fighting and magical attacks that mention blood but don't describe it in detail. Gore is rare and includes the sound of bones crunching and some detailed descriptions of pain and injuries. It's the first of two planned volumes that explore themes of loyalty, friendship, trust, and whether the end justifies the means. Wil is a strong female role model who's brave, loyal, and willing to do anything to protect loved ones, and she's pretty good in a fight, too. Rare sexy stuff includes noticing feelings of attraction and a few kisses. Fine for young teens and up who enjoy fantasies that combine magic and action.

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What's the story?

In THE GLASS SPARE, 15-year-old Wil is the youngest child and only daughter of the king of the world's wealthiest, most prosperous nation. But the northern kingdom of Arrod has its problems, too. One night while defending herself from a surprise attack, Wil discovers a magic ability she has that she knew nothing about. Her newfound power is capable of great harm, and when she accidentally causes unimaginable tragedy, Wil determines to find the world's most powerful "marveler" in hopes that he can remove her cursed power. But to find Pahn, she'll have to rely on Loom, prince of a rival kingdom threatening war. Can she trust Loom? And what about his mysterious companion, Zay? And even if she finds Pahn, what price will he ask in return for his help?

Is it any good?

Veteran author Lauren DeStefano offers an absorbing story that fans of magical fantasy and action are sure to enjoy. The Glass Spare creates an intriguing blend of classic fantasy elements like magical powers and stone castles with modern touches like digital eyeglasses, cars, and electric lights. The world is well imagined and easy to believe. The writing is solid but doesn't have enough spark to lift it above a well-done genre piece.

Wil is easy for teens to relate to as she struggles with strange new capabilities while also trying to learn about trust, love, and loyalty. There's no satisfying ending here. Since the book is part of a planned two-volume story, the ending instead sets up the next half. Fantasy fans will have to wait to learn what happens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The Glass Spare. How much is too much? Does it make a difference if it's fantasy violence? What about books vs. movies or TV?

  • What are some of your favorite fantasy series? How does this one compare?

  • Why do you think so many fantasies are multi-volume sets? Do you think you'll read the next one in this series?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and magic

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