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Lani K. Thompson reviews "Jagged Glass Ballet" by Brendan Detzner

Who is the observer and how did he get the scar that reaches the top of his neck down to his front hairline? Who are the blacksuits and why are they chasing the boy in a ski mask?

Readers will be surprised when they discover the answers to these and other questions raised in Brendan Detzner's book, Jagged Glass Ballet. Detzner has created a unique vision of a 15 story world inhabited by children who seem happy -- as long as they "go with the flow."

During the day they keep busy playing hockey, listening to music, working at various creative projects or adding to the hub of ropes, pulleys, platforms, bridges, model planes and a million other things that make up the labyrinth where they live hiden away from everyone and everything. But, at 6:00 when Oracle plays the piano, everything stops and they head for a room as big as four football fields where they leave something they made that day in exchange for a styrofoam tray of food.

At night they return to their rooms and they sleep -- all except for the observer (who has taken the name Dragon Plastic) and an outcast boy known as Toothpick. Their nights are a series of violents escapades as they try to unravel the mysteries of their strange new world while blacksuits chase them through the labyrinth, trying to kill them.

Even Death isn't what it seems in Detzner's vision:

"...A beam of light shone from some star a million miles away, lighting up the silhouette. It was Oracle, sitting at another perfect, black piano. Around her a huge pile of body parts was orbiting. She pressed a key, a high, annoying note. A male torso floated towards her. She continued to play, with no apparent melody. Arms and legs floated by the torso. Oracle reached over and brought the parts close to her and began to press each limb up to the torso. They fused together, with a sizzle. Oracle touched the scars where the parts had combined gently, with only the tips of her fingers. The scars disappeared. The body was complete, except for a head. Oracle turned back to the piano and played. The song was complete this time, with a beginning and an ending. A dozen disembodied heads floated towards the piano. They began to sing...It was a beautiful song."

Jagged Glass Ballet is a captivating tale. Detzner knows how to keep his readers turning the pages. The characters aren't fully fleshed but, even so, they're quite original. I had a hard time putting the story down. Detzner has a good ability for description and his vision would translate well to screen. I was mildly disappointed with the ending as I thought the story lost its focus sometime during the last few pages. Nonetheless, Jagged Glass Ballet was weirdly satisfying.

Read Excerpts from "Jagged Glass Ballet"

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