The Glittering World by Robert Levy
Gallery Books (February 10, 2015)
You’re going to see a lot of comparisons made between this, playwright Robert Levy‘s debut novel, and the work of Neil Gaiman, and I think those comparisons are appropriate. Like Gaiman, Levy is charting his own unique path through the darkened, shadowy corners of the fantasy genre, leading a journey that even those who normally avoid the “F” word will be glad they joined.
In The Glittering World, Levy has written a fantasy novel that is rooted in the reality of human emotion and longing; a fantasy that eschews orcs and trolls and faraway places with unprounounceable names for a hidden Canadian cove and a cast of humans reeling from the their own frailties. To this idyllic place comes Blue, a man looking to make some kind of peace with his past. Along with Blue are his friend (and sometimes more), Gabe; the former (maybe former) love of his life, Elisa; and Elisa’s husband Jason.
Rural Cape Breton was once the home of an artists’ commune, and it’s the place where Blue was born. His mother took him away at a young age, and Blue has never been sure why. As he returns to finalize the sale of his grandmother’s home – his last concrete tie to the area – he hopes to put together the pieces of a past that’s always been a mystery to him. His arrival triggers an escalating chain of events, and when Blue disappears – and Elisa along with him – his friends are forced to confront that idea that the man they’ve come to love and support may not be the man they thought he was.
Levy confidently and patiently builds his world with rich, textured storytelling and prose that leans to the lush side at times, but never becomes self-indulgent. The book is divided into four sections, each dedicated to a member of the main cast, and Levy uses these sections to flesh out these characters while keeping the story moving forward. He smartly eases us into the supernatural elements, teaching us what we need to know about the
“Other Kind” and their intoxicating influence on humans, when we need to know it. The finale is a satisfying one, and while it leaves a door or two open for more exploration, it’s refreshing to read a book that isn’t a blatant setup for a trilogy.
The Glittering World is a direct – sometimes brutally so – examination of the lengths some will go to in order to maintain a sense of belonging. It’s also a compelling look at identity, and what “who we are” means to each of us. All of this is wrapped up in a beautifully written fantasy thriller that bleeds pure imagination. It’s a wonderful debut, and it marks Robert Levy as a talent to watch.