In this convoluted ghostly romance set during the 1920s, a privileged set of early teens devoid of positive adult role models uneasily navigates relationships, sexual feelings and jealousy.
Readers will connect readily with Clare. The youngest of her group at 12, she is ambivalent about leaving childhood behind; the emotions of the others are often impenetrable. What is clear is that none have responded well to parental abandonment: Power-hungry Teddy, 15, drinks; precocious Bridget, 13, plans marriage as an escape; inseparable friends Denby and Bram, both 14, face changes in their relationship. In Clare’s case, she misses her deceased father and, given her mother’s string of “importunate” suitors, is desperate to know how a good man behaves. Then she meets Jack, the ghost in the glass house. His touches are soft, and, invisible, he can be anything Clare imagines. This provides a sharp contrast to Bridget’s manipulations. She takes up with Denby in an effort to make Bram jealous, but Bram is interested in Clare. Denby’s motivation is opaque—regrettable since, in a pivotal scene, he becomes inexplicably violent. That Clare’s mother should suddenly assume parental responsibility is unconvincing, and the resolution leaves some threads hanging.
Die-hard young romantics may embrace this; others will not mind letting this one slip away. (Historical fantasy. 12-16)