Glassheart – Katharine Orton

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Katharine Orton gripped me with her debut book: Nevertell. I am already a huge fan of hers, so was thrilled when Glassheart dropped through my letterbox! This magical, mysterious story is a world away from her first book, but has the same exciting and fast-paced writing style that you will love about Katharine.

During the war, stained-glass windows have been broken, which, along with her uncle, Nona fixes. They travel everywhere and see so many different things! But one of their commissions takes them to Dartmoor, where the lonely moors create a mysterious background for their work. Here, Nona discovers a magic as wild as the moors they’re located on, which is powerful enough to threaten those she loves.

After reading this book (I don’t want to give anything away, so you can discover it yourself!) I was lucky enough to interview Katharine about Glassheart, her writing and I even managed to sneak in a question about Christmas…

1) Following Nevertell, how did you decide what your next book would be about?

With some difficulty! I had lots of different ideas, but they either didn’t lead anywhere, or my excitement about them sort of… fizzled out. Then I came across an old photograph. It was of a girl, and she looked sad and serious, and was hiding behind her hair. And then I found a strange, unsettling image of a person with a stag’s head. I started to wonder about these people, and to build their characters, and that’s how Glassheart first started to take shape. I got goosebumps thinking about it and knew this was an idea I had to follow through with.

2) What inspired the idea of stained-glass windows in the book?

I used to work with glass. It was in a place that did just about everything: sold fused and stained glass window making supplies to tradespeople and hobbyists, taught courses, and had its own studio. It was an incredible, collaborative environment full of artists, teachers and creators. So because of that I ended up doing a bit of everything, too… I even learned how to engrave glass from a friend and colleague who was also a former monk! It really was the best, most creative time, and I’ve been dying to put stained glass into a story ever since.

3) Which stained-glass window do you love looking at? 

The Pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones, did stained glass too, and I could stare at his faces for days – and there’s also incredible work being created by artists today. But I was lucky enough to go to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan, which has the most amazing stained glass featuring all the best-loved Studio Ghibli characters: truly magical!

4) You really transport the readers with your writing. Where can they expect to end up in Glassheart?

Thank you so much. This time round, readers can expect to take a walk across the wild and windswept landscape of folklore-laden Dartmoor, discovering ancient woods, standing stones – and old ruins that aren’t all they seem…

5) It’s quite a different setting to Nevertell; which did you feel more connection with as a writer?

Good question! Writing about Dartmoor was a slightly different, more grounded experience because I’d walked it with my own feet as well as my imagination – but the vast Siberian landscape in Nevertell also filled me with awe as I wrote and thought about it. Wild and epic places in general inspire me, perhaps because my grandparents were both walkers and climbers who went on to start their own mountaineering club in Derbyshire after the war.

6) What is appealing about magic in a book? 

Magic is appealing to me personally in a book because of the ideas and feelings it can evoke, such as a sense of wonder, potential, empowerment, and connectedness. 

7) Finally, why is your book the perfect Christmas gift this year? 

Christmas is the perfect time for stories filled with both darkness and light: a sense of the cold and of threat, but also the warmth of friendship, family and community. And of course, it’s traditional to read ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Did I mention there’s also a ghost… ? 

Like the sound of this book? Buy it here:

Emily x

📚Book gifted by publisher.

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