The Glittering World by Robert Levy (Gallery, Feb. 10th)-Blue’s grandmother has passed away and he’s arrived, along with his three friends Elisa, Jason, and Gabe, in Cape Breton to handle the sale of her house. He figures while they’re there, they might as well enjoy the beautiful setting and relax a bit. Starling Cove is beautiful, home to a former commune, and Maureen, owner of the guest house that they’re staying in, is very welcoming. It’s been 25 years since his mother took him away from Cape Breton and he’s pursued a career as a chef, since cooking seems to come so naturally to him. In fact, lots of things seem to come naturally to Blue, but I digress. .. The friends seem to be enjoying their idyllic surroundings, but something beneath the surface is brewing, and tension amongst the group seems to be rising. Soon Blue goes to the house that his grandmother owned and discovers something in the basement that will change his life forever, and he begins seeing things and hearing whispers in the woods. And of course, the revelation that Blue and a girl went missing for weeks as children is a shocking one. Then Blue and Elisa disappear, and Jason and Gabe, each in their own very different ways, must find a way to get them back.
Robert Levy’s first novel is a darkly magical, emotionally complex one, and a somber and slightly wistful tone is struck from the start. While Blue is ostensibly the focus of the book in the beginning, after he and Elisa disappear, the most compelling character becomes young Gabe, who has adored Blue from the moment he saw him, and who is more than willing to believe in the otherworldly beings that are spoken of amongst some of the older townspeople. Levy uses old mythology to create a very contemporary fantasy, and tells the story, in turn, from each character’s perspective, giving it emotional resonance and speaking to the very human legacy behind the glittering world of Starling Cove. While this is a fantasy, and there are even horror elements, it’s really a book about love, friendship, the meaning of home, and of course, what lies beneath. Levy’s atmospherics are all encompassing, and fantastic. You could almost smell the loamy soil and feel the lushness of an almost primeval forest. I thought about this book for days after I finished it, and it’s a darkly romantic, lovely, sometimes horrifying, and yes, glittering read.