ARC Review: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskovitz

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: A History of Glitter and Blood
author: Hannah Moskovitz
pages: 280
format: Paperback
isbn/asin: 978-1452129426
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 9.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: I don't even know.  There's no comparison.  I'd say if you like Chuck Palahniuk (especially Haunted), experimental MFA stuff, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, and the movie Labyrinth, it's a good bet you'll love this book.
Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

in short

For my brother's 36th birthday (I miss you, Josh!), I'll gush about one of my favorite books of the year.  In my heart, I think it's the kind of thing we would have enjoyed together, while listening to Quiet Riot.  

There's a good chance you may not like this book.  It may not be your thing.  But if it is--you're in for a wild, gritty, glitzy acid trip.  Despite coming up in the young adult blogs a lot, it's most decidedly meant for the older crowd.  Beckan and her friends are the last fairies remaining in their city after a terrible war.  To survive, they prostitute themselves to the wealthy goblins who have taken the city for their own.  Until the Tightropers arrive.  They build their rope cities above the wasted streets and promise a better life for the Fae.  When Beckan befriends an enigmatic Tightroper called Piccolo, life seems full of possibilities--until she realizes that her world is more tangled than she could have imagined.  History is the kind of book you have to experience to understand, a dark and glittering manifesto to the degradation--and redemption--of the spirit. 

in depth

it's a schizophrenic daydream,
This book is not for everyone.  It's a postmodern fairy tale of epic proportions that begins strangely and becomes truly bizarre.  Early on, we have the line, "Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn't write a fucking book. I don't know what comes next. That whole chapter's going to need to get thrown out anyway."  The narrator, Scrap, is struggling through this story, and the plot is filled with these interjections.  Change this later.  Add that.  But what I came to realize is that Scrap is actually writing the book as the events he's talking about are happening.  So you're reading one chapter as Scrap is writing it, just after it happened, and he has no freaking clue what's going to happen next.  Because it hasn't happened.  And then you begin to suspect that Scrap's narrative isn't the whole truth, but a sort of diary-narrative, his own way of coping with the horrors around him.  And as the writer unravels, so too the narrative spirals out of control into bloody perfect chaos.   

a gut-wrenching twist on fairy tales
Now into this frame, insert a world in which fairies are immortal.  Not in the way you think.  They can't be killed.  Ever.  But they can be maimed.  They can be chopped into tiny pieces.  They can be decapitated, or swallowed by hungry trolls.  And no matter what happens, even those tiniest specks of them are still alive and sentient and feeling and imbued with fairy soul.  Imagine being able to feel yourself being digested by a troll.  For the rest of eternity.  Every it of glitter that flecks off their sparkly bodies is a bit of soul and pain.  This is a world where fairies used to let trolls do the grunt work, and if a troll snapped off a delicious fairy hand here and there, oh well.  A world where not being maimed is uncommon.  Where Beckan carries her father (the eyeball and nose that's left of him) in a jar.  Where fairies turn tricks for their new troll overlords to stay alive, and just hope they don't get eaten one day.  This isn't your grandma's princess story.  

that combines endearingly broken characters
With the trolls in charge and the world this hellish, most of the fairies have left.  Only Beckan and her friends remained.  Until Cricket was eaten, of course.  Josha pines away for his former lover, while Beckan and Scrap trade their bodies for cash and revel in a mix of thrill and self-loathing.  Josha is sweet and strong.  Beckan is wild and at odds with the world; she loves as fiercely as she hates; she's pragmatic and whimsical.  And Scrap.  He's a beautiful wraith being eaten from the inside out by his demons, a murderer, a partially willing whore, and a hopeless romantic.  And I love him.  On the troll side is Beckan's client Tier, who has a domineering but also strangely loving relationship with Beckan, and Rig, Tier's betrothed, a woman who's seen hell and just wants to learn how to touch.  Piccolo was probably my least favorite, probably because Scrap (knowingly or not) paints him as a flighty, conniving airhead.  But all in all, I cared about these people so damn much.  I felt their wounds and their strange intimacies as deeply as knives.  And I shipped Scrap and his special someone so freaking hard.  

with vicious humor and rawness. 
Even if you hate the format, can't follow the story, and think the content is crass and transgressive, you have to give Moskovitz a shit-ton of credit for taking risks.  This is the kind of book that will be talked about.  That takes chances.  That pulls you apart until you rip and keeps challenging you.  And I do love my transgressives.  Moskovitz writes with a confidence you can't help but admire.  She knows Scrap's voice absolutely, and that voice is profane, violent, wry, and frenetic.  The aesthetic is David Bowie's Labyrinth in all its freakish, skin-crawling majesty.  It strikes you to the very core.  I've never felt so strongly like I was living through someone's absolute undoing, and their redemption.  Can one book simultaneously horrifying to every sensibility and achingly beautiful?  

Hell yes. 

in a sentence

A History of Glitter and Blood is a story-within-a-story that twists the fairy tale into a violent dystopian postmodern love story--and it's astounding.         


will i read this author again?  Yes yes yes!  
will i continue the series?  This isn't a book that could possibly have a sequel, but I really want to re-read it.  

Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected by stated opinions.


  1. This sounds absolutely amazing CJ! I love when books deal with mental health in a realistic and positive way. And the way that fairy tales are wrapped into the story's plot sounds incredible too! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    1. I'm not fully sure about the realistic bit (fairies xD), but it's definitely treated appropriately. Thank you!!!