A Face Like Glass takes place in Caverna, an underground city full of weird magic. Such as wines that can erase or restore your memory – not all of it, but last Wednesday afternoon for example – or perfume that changes your mood.

So valuable and important is this magic that nobody is allowed to enter or leave Caverna. The city folk trade with the outside world, but mostly the outside is a place of legend.

The people in this city are equally weird. They do not have any instinctive facial expressions. Faces have to be taught and learned. Poor people might only be taught a handful of faces, suitable to their situation in life, such as “listening attentively”, “grateful”, and “focused on a task”. The nobility on the other hand may have hundreds, and might commission a special new face for a special occasion. Famous facesmiths craft new faces and release entire new series.

Into this world comes Neverfell, a girl with a face like glass – all her feelings shine right through. She is a bizarre novelty. The warring noble families and the Grand Steward himself compete to use her for their various ends. Unfortunately she is also naive and unworldly, and incapable of lying, since her face immediately betrays her. She is unlike anyone else in the city and throws everything into turmoil.

Clever and inventive, and a neat mystery with some nifty ideas, and entirely unpredictable when it comes to plot. But the tone and the endless piling-on of yet more weird things did become predictable and, well, not exactly annoying, but somewhat too much. There are some gaping holes in the “world” of Caverna and in Neverfell’s background that were really hard to believe.

Mostly quite enjoyable, with splashes of utter brilliance but also some annoying splotches.