Author: Marianne de Pierres
Publisher: Twelfth Planet Press
Publication Date: September 2010
Hardcover: 69 pages
Stand alone or series: Contains 5 stories, 4 of them related and part of a self-contained cycle.
The Glitter Rose Collection features five short stories by Marianne de Pierres – four previously published and one new story. Each copy of this limited edition print run is signed and presented in a beautiful hardbound cover, with internal black and white illustrations.
The Glitter Rose stories are set against the background of Carmine Island (an island reminiscent of Stradbroke Island, Queensland) where a decade ago spores from deep in the ocean blew in, by a freak of nature, and settled on the island. These spores bring fierce allergies to the inhabitants of the island. And maybe other, more sinister effects. As we follow Tinashi’s journey of moving to and settling into island life, we get a clearer picture of just what is happening on Carmine Island.
Glitter Rose is named after the glitter rose dusks that happen at certain tides on the island – when the last of sunset has fallen, a strange phosphorescence can be seen on the sands of the beaches. Colourless at first, it rapidly changes to a “carpet of tiny, shining, rose-coloured grains” as the sky darkens.
Why did I read the book: The author contacted us and offered a review copy. I saw the cover, checked her website, took a gamble and decided to say yes. I am SO happy I did.
How did I get the book: Review copy from author
Glitter Rose is a collection of 5 short stories, four previously published in different publications and one new story. Four of those stories are part of the Glitter Rose quartet, all set in the mysterious Carmine Island and one independent story which closes the collection, In the Bookshadow.
The stories in the Glitter Rose quartet are all interconnected and follow Tinashi, the heroine and narrator. It is from her point of view that the reader is introduced to Carmine Island, a place that used to be a popular tourist destination but fell off the track once mysterious spores from the ocean settled on its shores causing the glitter rose phenomenon that is now Carmine Island’s signature. Every day at dusk rose-coloured grains shine on its beaches, a sight that is both beautiful and terrifying because the spores have caused strong allergies to the inhabitants and visitors of the island –which made people leave and/or avoid the place – but also, it has changed in mysterious ways those who stayed.
The quartet starts as Tinashi arrives in the island, rents a shack by one of the beaches and starts to settle down on her own, far away from everybody at first but slowly interacting with the locals and even making friends. But those interactions are somewhat restrained , reserved – it is as though Tinashi never really lets herself fully communicate with others (and therefore with the reader) and there is always the feeling of something missing from the narrative especially with regards to the people she meets or the things that happen. Hardly any judgement or sentiment is passed with regards to those; she is merely an observer and it is as though everything else, depth, adjectives are saved to describe the Island. Her descriptions of the place are much more insightful, lyrical, and luxurious to the point where I felt I was almost there.
Of course all of this is part of the story (because it is one story, in four parts) itself: once we learn more about Tinashi, her motivations, her sadness, it all becomes clear to us. By the end of the quartet, her story comes full circle. I loved this quartet: the stories are quietly intriguing, evoking a sense of dread, being creepy and sinister without being exactly horrific (although there is a bit of that as well) and they would be enough to recommend this collection but there is still the cherry on top: the last, unrelated story In the Bookshadow in which a nameless narrator works at a book shop selling fantasy novels to different types of people and it stock filled with ironic observations about then genre and those who read it .
Although I didn’t think it was as strong as the stories in the quartet, In the Bookshadow certainly had a certain fantastical quality sprinkled with a noir feel. And in the end: I would define Glitter Rose as a delightful meal: the quartet as the main course and the final story as the dessert that complements it.
I cannot possibly finish this review though without having mentioned the physical aspect of this book. I am a keen supporter of ebooks and I am about to get my first ereader however there is something to be said about books that come in such a wonderful package such as this which beautifully envelops what is great content ( I mention great content because without this a great cover would mean nothing to me, of course). The book is small and slim, it almost fits in one hand and it has the beautifully evocative cover (and a few illustrations inside as well) and reading this was a twofold pleasure, one that I hardly have these days.
On occasion, butterflies swarmed Carmine Island, blown by the spirit winds during that hot, unsettled spell when summer cavorts like a lively, beautiful woman.
My first time, I stood in wonder as they engulfed me on the dunes above Bara Beach. A swirl of wings: exotic, dancing petals whisking me inside their kaleidoscope. I stood still, lost in the fluttering, marvellous eccentricity of it all.
Eventually they drifted away, down on the giant sandcastles that made Bara beach unique, leaving me curiously bereft. My impulse was to follow, but as always when it came to Bara Beach, I hesitated.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver