I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.
House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui is a unique magical realism story. One day, after her grandfather passes away, Maera wakes up with a greenhouse in her backyard. The greenhouse is supposed to be thousands of miles away and when her ammi doesn’t find that strange, Maera grows even more suspicious. Forced to confront her grandfather’s past, Maera investigates the greenhouse, only to find out that it may hold the key to uncovering what happened to her missing brother years ago.
This story was told in alternating point of views across a timeline. We follow Maera, in present day, and also see from her grandfather’s perspective from his youth days. This could potentially be confusing for readers, though I didn’t have any issues with it. I did find that at certain points, I only cared for one perspective and towards the end, I was more invested in Maera’s arc and not the past timeline.
The plot for this book is my favourite part. It’s twisted and brilliant. Full of culture, myths and wonder. There were some parts that I found jarring and confusing. I wished they had been better explained and more fleshed out but I still appreciated the concept.
I loved learning about Pakistani culture and there were some elements that I recognised. It felt real and relatable.
I did struggle with the pacing. For the first 60-70%, I wasn’t that invested. It started off slowly and there wasn’t much happening. After the 70% mark, the pacing really picked up. Like really. So much so, that some things happened too quickly.
There was a small romance sub plot, that for once, I didn’t care about. It didn’t add anything to the story for me. Maera has a crush on a boy named Rob, who she hasn’t interacted with in years. And suddenly he comes back into her life and this really intense romance is introduced out of the blue. There were some sentences that I just found strange. It pulled me out of the story. I can’t remember what the exact words were, but it involved ‘feasting her eyes’ on Rob.
The characters did feel a little flat, and one dimensional. With the exception of Shah Jehan. She was my favourite. I loved that we touched on women empowerment as she was so brave in such a ‘man’s world’.
The ending was incredible. I was really happy with how it wrapped up. This brought the book up in rating. It tied everything together and I liked how all the pieces that were set up through both timelines fell into piece. It was really satisfying.
I would recommend this for readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories full of culture. If you’re looking for a fast paced book, this probably isn’t for you.