two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
25-Nov-Dec-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-The Glass BooksWhen Celeste Temple receives a terse "Dear Jane" letter from her beau, Roger Bascombe, she doesn’t just get mad: she gets curious. Her quest to discover Roger’s reasons for leaving leads her to the opulent home of Lord Vandaariff, who entertains highly unusual guests in a highly unusual fashion. In the unlikely company of "Cardinal" Chang, an assassin trying to discover who killed one of his targets before he got there, and Dr. Abelard Svenson, a physician in search of a missing client, Miss Temple investigates Lord Vandaariff’s diabolical Process and the source of the bizarre, violent, and erotic happenings at his manor.
Bantam. 768 pages. $26. ISBN: 0385340354

Kansas City Star 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Dahlquist uses a superfluity of detail to impart a disturbing evocation of Victorian debauchery. … [The novel] has a clever conceit with a foundation of literature as fantasy, though it has its excesses and derivations." Robert Folsom

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Ponderously ornate … it’s a kinky, atmospheric look at Victorian England that all too often moves like a sullen coach through one of the author’s many, many London fogs. … [But] Dahlquist can conjure nifty dreamlike images, such as a mystery train filled with passengers dressed for a Venetian bal masque and small glass calling cards capable of broadcasting images, like Queen Victoria’s own little video iPod." Kevin Allman

USA Today 2 of 5 Stars
"There are lots of fascinating scenes in which people are turned into blue glass, are tinted blue, or spew blue foam from their mouths—and these are some of the really good scenes in the book. … The truth is, the only people who may have enough patience to read every word of this bloated novel are… inmates serving life sentences." Carol Memmott

Wall Street Journal 0.5 of 5 Stars
"Full of dastardly noblemen and nefarious doings inside a creepy manor, the novel The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is a throwback that should have been thrown back. … So much of the story remains unresolved that one suspects the printer simply collapsed." Kyle Smith

Critical Summary

Gordon Dahlquist’s work as a playwright seems to have ill-prepared him for a career as a novelist. In his debut novel, he combines history, crime, and social commentary—with mixed results. While his characters are unusual and interesting, particularly the poetry-quoting assassin "Cardinal" Chang, he describes his Victorian setting in exhaustive and exhausting detail. Dahlquist’s elaborate descriptions and meandering prose create a lengthy tome that may overwhelm many readers. The interactions between Miss Temple and her cohorts are intriguing enough to carry the story through the ponderous middle section and the pace quickens as the plot thickens, but there’s no denying the book would be better minus 300 pages.