The Glass of Time: A Novel

The Glass of Time - Michael Cox 4+ starsIt's tough to categorize this book, because it's such a full story... and it's a story full of twists, mysteries, revelations, and even some romance. I did *not* read "The Meaning of Night" first; I had no idea or indication that "The Glass of Time" was, in any way, a sequel to that book. I've a mind to read it now, just to see what I might have missed or already known coming into this book.But from the first few pages, this book had me - I didn't want to put it down. I did, occasionally, because (and this is my only real nit) at times there was simply too much information to process! And some of it's "mystery" was obvious... some easily pieced together... some known by "intuition", and some rather surprising and welcome twists.Esperanza Alice Gorst arrives at Evenwood, the homestead of the Tanor Barony. She's 19 years old, born in France, orphaned at age 5, raised by Madame l'Orme, and educated by her tutor, Mr. Thornhaugh. Esperanza has been told that she is to undertake a Great Task, but she knows nothing about what that task is or the reasons behind it; upon her arrival, she only knows that it's imperative that she be hired as a lady's maid for Lady Emily Duport (Lady Tanor). Esperanza is promised 3 letters over the course of the year, each to reveal more to her of this Great Task that she is to accomplish. All she knows is that she has someone at Evenwood assisting her and watching over her; but this person will remain unnamed to her unless it's a dire emergency.As her ladyship's maid, Esperanza (called Alice by Lady Tanor) has difficulty fitting into her new world. She was raised "upstairs", to be a lady; the "downstairs" folk know that she's above them, even though she tries to befriend them. They like her well enough, but she doesn't fit into their world. She's also unsure how to act towards her ladyship's two sons, Perseus and Randolph. Each is around her age, and each seems to want to spend time with her - friendship or more? Esperanza isn't certain how she should act... whether these friendships have any impact on the Great Task or not. But as she ponders this, she finds herself drawn to and falling for the eldest, Perseus.There's danger in her secret identity, though. A Mr. Armitage Vyse obviously has some hold over Lady Emily, and some knowledge of the plot that Esperanza finds herself enmeshed in... something to do with the murder of Lady Emily's love, Phoebus Daunt and the man who murdered him, Edward Glyver. Vyse doesn't trust Esperanza, and constantly tries to get information from her or find ways to force Lady Emily to be rid of her; he all but threatens Esperanza himself, and she discovers that one of his henchmen follows her.What is this Great Task that she's been groomed all her life to fulfill? Will Esperanza grow weary of the secrets and lies, not only from Lady Emily, but from Madame and Thornhaugh? Can she pull it off?As it turns out, the secrets and lies go deeper than anyone truly knows, and the truth DOES set Esperanza and Lady Emily free, but at a great cost. Esperanza risks everything when she uncovers the final truth - she throws away her heart and misinterprets other affections, only to find herself thwarted... and without the proof she needs to claim what is rightfully hers. That is, until Lady Emily finally gives Esperanza what she needs... but still manages to escape the true revenge of having her day in court, so to speak.While it might be said that everything ends too neatly, I didn't mind the happy ending. It wasn't the happily-ever-after ending, but rather, an ending where the principal characters chose happiness over gloom and despair. They CHOSE and lived their lives accordingly. And justice was finally served - the truth did finally come out, in all it's gore and glory.