The Glass Demon is one of those books I knew was going to be good right from the very first lines. In just two lines Grant effectively sets up a feeling of impending doom, and with the third sets up the first death - and thus the rest of the book. With such a strong opening, standards are high for the rest of the book. But Grant's elegant writing and careful plotting make for a page-turning novel that gets better and better with each chapter.
In a YA paranormal market awash with vampires, werewolves and the like, and set in English-speaking parts of the world (mostly the United States of America), The Glass Demon stands out thanks to its slow-building series of mysterious events and deaths due to uncertain demonic causes, and (more importantly), its German setting. It is that German setting that adds to the sense of isolation and strange discovery - while main character Lin is fluent in German enough to communicate with the townsfolk and attend school, her family is not. So not only are the family isolated by the tight-knit community into which they have arrived, as well as their out-of-cell-coverage, but also by language.
But not only does Lin have to play translator for her family with regards to their new home, she also attempts to play translator within it. From the outside they look like a wonderful family, but if they themselves were a portrait made of glass it would be full of cracks. Grant deftly combines the internal family problems with the external attacks on them, and ties the whole thing together with the foreshadowing of impending doom for one of them. All in all it makes for a compelling drama, in and outside the family.
The paranormal/horror aspects are very well-handled as well. The clues to the mystery are tantalizing, while the twists and new discoveries kept me turning pages to see what happened next. The Glass Demon was definitely one of those books that once picked up I could not put down, and Lin's first person narration was excellent at building up the tension and was filled with wonderful lines and pieces of imagery. In fact, I found Lin's voice to be at its most beautiful at the most tragic of moments, and the juxtaposition there made for absolutely breathless reading.
Overall, The Glass Demon was a compelling piece of drama and horror that captured me from the first page, and its combination of religious, historical and German elements made it a stand out read. I highly recommend it.