On the Verge
Author: Garen Glazier
Publisher: Only Child Press
Published: September 16th, 2015
Audience: NA/ Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Freya is just a student at the University of Washington worried about grades and making her next tuition payment until a gorgeous succubus interrupts her post-exam latte with a proposition: come work for her boss, Seattle’s reclusive heiress and antiquities collector Imogen Beldame. Eagerly agreeing despite a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach, Freya finds herself swept up in a deadly quest at the behest of her psychopathic new employer. Beldame has given her until Halloween to collect three magical pigments that hold the key to crafting mesmerizing portraits that can access the Verge, an undiscovered borderland on the edge of human reality, and the powerful beings that call it home.
Freya’s reluctant journey takes her to a goblin stronghold in the Cascades for the color blue, to the Seattle Underground to request the color red from Baba Yaga, and to the Fremont home of a beautifully gruesome Cambodian ahp, or spirit of the night, for the color yellow. Working together with Rusty, an enigmatically disfigured man intimately connected with the Verge, and a motley crew of mercurial demons and loyal friends, Freya must come up with a plan to stop Beldame and preserve the fragile balance between fantasy and reality that is at its most vulnerable on Halloween.
On the Verge is a supernatural adventure filled with macabre thrills and a dark, sensual energy that will leave you turning the page well into the night. How do I know this? Because I lived it.
Prepare yourself for a lot of quotes because if there was any book deserving of a million quotes in its review it’s On the Verge.
“The best art is a spiritual experience that unites us once again with our true selves, and often what we see on the canvas is raw, unsettling, and even disturbing, because it’s true. Art reveals to us the divine and the damned in all of us.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
Freya is a senior in art history who drifts between school and sleep without much regard to anything separate of Seattle’s art scene. Enter, Ophidia, a representative for a popular, albeit eccentric art dealer with an offer of a part-time job that although against her instincts, Freya accepts. This job leads Freya to the Verge:
"The Verge is a borderland that surrounds your world. It's an undiscovered frontier on the edge of human reality wherein exist all the creatures and beings of myth and legend. We[...]are the dreams and nightmares, gods and devils of the human imagination." – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
The Verge is an alternative dimension where beings of human imagination and passion are brought to life before they emerge into our world. Every creature known to mankind. Glazier is a genius to create this world with the Verge because there is no limit to what can happen or what creatures from mankind’s legends she could bring to life. Within the world of the Verge, beings can be either bound to physical objects in our realm and they can be sent back to the darkness of the Verge if something vital is taken, making them lose their identity.
“Freya couldn’t help but note the strangeness of the scene, a grown woman in mourning clothes cradling an enchanted little dolly in the middle of a meat-eating plant menagerie.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
Glazier's prose is exquisite, sinuous, and poetic. Making the complex, prodigious plot sing with perfection. Within the unique and vast universe Glazier created, she keeps within her own boundaries and laws – both of which are realistic and interesting. There is plenty of external and internal conflict for the protagonist, as well as, a complex centralized conflict – due to demonic alliances and lack thereof - that affects mankind. From start to finish, this plot – it sucks you in to where putting the book down is akin to climbing Mt. Everest. Not many could pull it off.
“For a bookish girl with artistic sensibilities and a naiveté born from spending too much time alone with her daydreams, she actually felt a bit excited about what might be in store for her.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
Freya is an amazing heroine for this fantastical world that Glazier created not only because she has a type of dark sophistication mixed with some skepticism, but because she isn’t like most fantasy heroines that fall into the lost hero or the warrior hero. She’s just some art hipster who finds herself in a life threatening situation that leads to a wild journey through Seattle and the Verge. Freya is a very real, grounded character in a world of fantastic beings. She laments her situations:
“Oh, man, I cannot believe I am here to see a witch about bugs,” Freya said. “How is this my life now?” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
Her emotions are complex and diverse:
“She woke from these disconcerting visions feeling the excitement of a lover tempted and the mortification of a transgressor caught in the act.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
All these things grounding her character and making her relatable.
“The man was tall and imposing with a lugubriousness that pervaded the atmosphere around him. Freya always envisioned him as a kind of Teutonic angel, full of latent wrath and self-righteous superiority.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
Other characters, both from the Verge and from our world, fill this book with so much depth. Glazier plays with the notion that nobody – human or creature – is truly evil or good. Both have propensity for either. I don’t want to go into much detail about the characters because I want to leave them as a surprise for you, but I will say that those who fall on the side of evil are wondrously creepy and take a sick pleasure from the results of their actions.
Then there is Rusty, he is not your typical love interest. He’s a meaty, mountain man with a disfigured face – not exactly the muscular man-models seen in almost any novel with a romantic subplot. At the beginning, I was actually expecting for Freya and the sexy-but-moody professor to get together because that is was usually happens. I was pleasantly surprised for Freya and Rusty.
“She had found that the truth was sometimes hard but always real…” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier
My only and I mean ONLY complaint - because this novel is in itself a work of art - is Glazer’s tendencies to overuse her descriptions. I understand that the characters are all intellectuals, the scene is set in the art community of Seattle, and the main character is a deep-thinking hipster. But there’s no need for an excess of words such as “lugubriousness” and “crepuscular” to be thrown into the narrative. It makes the passages seem longer – probably because I had to use the dictionary function on my Kindle often.
Garen Glazer is a mistress of written word and I am so thrilled to have had the pleasure of reading her work. Fans of fantasy and adventure will love this tale of an art student’s incredible journey through an extraordinary world. It’s a story that has been told a million times, but Glaziers refreshingly modern retelling will capture and engage readers from start to finish. Although the book ends solidly, with all major plot lines tied up nicely, due to the complex world and the nature of the Verge itself there is room for a sequel. One I hope to see.