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The Theatre of Glass and Shadows, by Anne Corlett

Juliet’s father dies and her stepmother gives her a cash settlement to leave home as soon as possible. She heads to London’s Theatre District to try to find the truth about her birth mother…
The Theatre of Glass and Shadows is a book with multiple layers set in an alternate universe in London.
Juliet is not held in high affection by her stepmother so, when her father dies, she is quickly paid off and forced to leave the family home. She follows her heart and the mystery of her mother to the Theatre District where actors have created a permanent Show. She is immersed in this new culture and finally feels like she belongs.
My sympathy was immediately with Juliet due to her troubled, unfortunate situation. She is let down by her family but this gives her the opportunity to find out the truth about her real mother. This aim gives her a purpose and determination although I couldn’t really understand the allure of the Show other than the family angle.
I found it a little tricky to engage with the setting as the action takes place in an alternate London. Dating the plot was also difficult as the scenario seemed to be more Victorian Gothic yet it is actually set in the 1950s. The descriptions are flowing and detailed, bringing the plot to life, but this does slow down the pace. I enjoyed the mystery about Juliet’s mother and how the truth is revealed.
The Theatre of Glass and Shadows is an intriguing mystery.

The Theatre of Glass and Shadows book cover

Sometimes the greatest spectacle hides the darkest secrets . . .

In an alternate London, the city’s Theatre District is a walled area south of the river where an immersive production – the Show – has been running for centuries, growing ever bigger, more sprawling and lavish. The Show is open to anyone who can afford a ticket but the District itself is a closed world; even the police have no jurisdiction within its walls.

Juliet’s mother died when she was a baby. Brought up by her emotionally distant father and even more distant stepmother, she has never felt wanted. It’s only when her father passes away that Juliet – now nineteen – learns her birth was registered in the District. Desperate to belong somewhere at last, she travels to London where she hopes to unearth the truth about her identity, her mother’s death and her father’s years of silence – and claim her birthright.

But in the District, there is only one central truth: the Show must go on. And in a world where illusions abound, and powerful men control the narrative, Juliet has no idea of just how far some will go to ensure certain stories are never told . . .
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About the author
Anne is originally from the north-east, but somehow slid down the map and finished up in a small village near Bath, where she lives with her partner and three sons. She has an MA in English Language and Linguistics from Edinburgh University, and an MSt in Linguistics from Oxford University. During her postgraduate studies, she worked as an etymologist and proofreader for a dictionary, carrying out research at the Bodleian Library.
Armed with her linguistics-related degrees and work experience, Anne took the somewhat illogical next step and became a criminal lawyer. In 2011, after several years spent working in the London courts and police stations, Anne remembered that she’d actually planned to be a writer, and commenced work on her first novel. This was slightly unfortunate timing, given that she was right in the middle of relocating to Somerset with her family, who seemed to feel that a little less novel-writing and a little more packing might be warranted. They probably had a point.
Over the next couple of years Anne fitted writing work around her day job as a solicitor. Her writing has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and anthologies, and has won various awards.
In 2016, The Space Between the Stars was published by Pan Macmillan in the UK and Random House in the US. She wrote most of this novel while studying for a Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University. Her second novel, The Theatre of Glass and Shadows, will be published in May 2024 by Bonnier.
Anne enjoys working with other writers, through editing, mentoring and teaching.

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