Friday, February 24, 2012

Story of the Week: The World Beyond the Glass

Suzanne van Rooyan's "The World Beyond the Glass" in the Winter 2012 online edition of Golden Visions Magazine is an amusing tale of a petty shoplifter who steals something more valuable than she could ever imagine.

Davey is browsing a bookstore, looking for a birthday gift for her bookish younger sister who has already read everything, when she comes across a snowglobe serving as a book-stop.

[Davey] peered closely at the ornate base carving, at the tiny steps spiralling through what appeared to be mildew-coloured marble. It wasn't a snowglobe really, more like a glitter globe. Strips of drowsy tinsel floated through the mini atmosphere, settling on the bottom in a shimmering sea. In the centre of the ocean stood a tree, flame-red in the throws of Autumn. Two moons hovered above the horizon, one silver, the other deepest indigo.

Deciding that her sister could use a book-stop as much as a new book, she waits for an opportune moment and snatches it with "practiced ease." On the walk home through the snow, with her hands stuffed in her pockets, "[a] not unpleasant tingle spread up her fingers and settled in a band around her wrist." An experienced thief, Davey soon realizes she's being followed by two figures in long, black coats with hoods secured around their faces. She tries to loose them in a market, but they stay with her and pursue her all the way to her apartment building where they wait outside, seemingly staring directly at her whenever she looks out.

In her room, she takes out the globe, wondering why it's so valuable.

[Davey] shook it, dislodging the twinkling ocean from the bottom so that silver streamers swirled in a blizzard, catching on the red tree like torn petticoats on an old woman’s wash-line.

A gust of wind billowed through the streamers, tearing them from the tree dumping several scarlet leaves on the mirror-surface lake.

Davey's eyes widened as another gust teased the tinsel ocean into frothy waves. She blinked and shook her head, not believing it. A crystal shard broke the surface of the sea, rippling and vanishing like a shiny scaled serpent, or platinum whale. 

Later that night, she wakes to find the two hooded figures standing at the foot of her bed. She learns that they are Fae, "Guardians of the Gate" enclosed within the globe and they have come to brief the new "Warden of the Realm" on her responsibilities.

Van Rooyan's writing is fluid. Vivid details create a palpable sense of place. The narrative is littered with understated humor and great similes, such as "Still they followed, like sticky shadows, like gum on the sole of a shoe you just can't get rid of." The only quibble I have are some references to the political situation of the story world. I found them superflous to the action and a bit distracting. Thieves are rather common in fantasy--Bilbo, I suppose, being the most famous. Van Rooyan creates an engaging character in Davey who is quick to realize she's in over her head. Davey is no a hero. She's ordinary, except for her skills at thievery, and her response to her situation is practical, charming, and humorous, encouraging the reader's sympathy and empathy. I can imagine more Davey stories. We'll have to wait and see if Van Rooyan has any more adventures for her thief.

To learn more about Suzanne van Rooyan and her writing, check out her website at


  1. Bilbo! Great review; sounds like a good one. And well done on meeting your February Write1Sub1 goals.

  2. I agree with Milo, that's a pretty detailed short story review :) Also, congrats on meeting your W1S1 goals for February :)

  3. Congrats on your W1S1 success