The book is the debut novel of a German author who writes under a pseudonym. I stumbled across it while searching through the publisher’s new program for another book. Somehow the cover made me curious - who could resist such a fantastic cover? For sure not me. And the summary sounded so intriguing too, so why not ask for it? Before we go into some details, I guess it is only fair that I tell you, that almost everyone in the German book blogosphere is thrilled over the moon about this novel. In the end, I can say, that I don´t share the excitement all the other readers have expressed in their reviews for this book. Not sure if it is the author´s style or that the story needed some time to get actually started. But judge for yourself.

Palace Of Glass-Die Wächterin*
by C.E. Bernard
Palace Saga #1
Translation Charlotte Lungstrass-Kapfer
Original Title Touch That Fire
Publisher Penhaligon on March 19, 2018
Genre Fantasy
Pages 410
Format Softcover
Source Publisher

Rea Emris sins. When she thinks, when she feels, when she touches someone. That´s what they tried to tell her. Because Rea grew up in a society where touch is illegal. Only at night Rea strips off her gloves to get into the ring. There, the petite woman defeats one overpowering opponent after the other in the fistfight. Her talent, however, does not go undetected: When the British secret service detects Rea, she is abducted to the one place from which she wants to fell at any cost, but cannot: to the king´s court in the glassy Buckingham Palace. There the inconspicuous fighter receives a dangerous assignment: As a bodyguard, she must protect the life of the heir to the throne. Prince Robin, however, is aloof, arrogant and has his own secrets. But what he suspects least: Rea himself is Robin´s biggest enemy … (personal translation)
London, 2054. Modern technology combined with the clothing of the 19 Century and a completely different looking Buckingham Palace. Everything is made of glass, looks sterile, and being close to a person or getting emotional is forbidden. For Rea a nightmare. She is a Magdalena. She can read and manipulate people’s minds if she touches them. Her need to feel other people´s skin and to see their thoughts is like an addiction to her. One, she isn´t allowed to live out.

C.E. Bernard has a wonderful writing style, no doubt about that. But for me, this novel was anything but thrilling. At least during the first half, I didn´t feel that kind of excitement. The plot is fascinating, yes, and I always had a certain picture in my head while reading. But I missed some life within the pages. It was too quiet, too calmed despite all the action-filled scenes. While reading the first half, I couldn´t really connect with the figures or the story. That changed the moment I started reading the second half of this book. Suddenly, the author lights up a firework and shows that not everything is the way it looks at first sight. The king shows his real face, the queen proves that she is far from being perfect and Rea is in the biggest trouble she ever had to face.

But in my eyes that happened too late to give this novel more than the below-shown rating. Sure, you could say that at least it changed for the better, and for that, I am giving this fantasy novel a higher rating than I actually was about to give.

The author has a great way to create her figures. She doesn´t use many words to describe them, but those she uses, fit perfectly. Life at the palace isn´t all flowers and sunshine. There are many rules to obey and behind every corner is secret hiding.

Rea is on display every minute of the day. And she has to hide her ability very carefully. It would mean her death if the king or someone else would discover what she is. With that in mind, she is living her life the best way she can. She wants more, wants to be free, but is too afraid to really fight for it. I wasn´t very fond of the Rea who wants another life but has no clue how to get it. That Rea is hesitant, does everything to keep her secret hidden, and to not get any attention. The other Rea, the fighter, I liked very much. She is determined to do everything in her power to get what she wants. And she trusts her ability.

I was in some way entertained, yes. And I liked the writing style. But until the first half was over, I wasn´t really thrilled or got excited about the novel itself. Sad, but this story was only a bit above average for me. Despite that, I am still eager to find out, how Rea is doing in France. The setting for the second book of this trilogy.  

Happy reading

*This book was, at the time this review was published, only available in the German language. The Title was kindly provided to me by Penhaligon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

C. E. Bernard
C.E. Bernard ©Eva-Lotte Hill

C.E. Bernard is the pseudonym of Christine Lehnen, who was born in 1990 in the Ruhr and since then has lived in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Paris. He short stories were awarded with the literary prizes of the Young Academies of Europe and the Ruhr Festival Recklinghausen. Since 2014 she teaches Literary Writing at the University of Bonn. In addition, Christine Lehnen studies English Literature and political science, does research on creative writing and stages plays with the Bonn University Shakespeare Company. 


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