Jump into our Spirit Glass book review to discover the latest Rick Riordan Presents book, written by Roshani Chokshi, which explores Filipino mythology and culture!
Ever since Roshani Chokshi kicked off Rick Riordan Presents back in 2018, I’ve been completely taken by her writing and her presence. Aru Shah continues to be my favorite series out of this imprint, so when I learned we’d be getting a new book from Rosh, I was over the moon with excitement.
I was even more excited to learn that The Spirit Glass would explore the other part of her heritage—Filipino mythology, folklore, and culture. The RRP books have continued to teach me so much about the customs and traditions of people from around the world, and I was more than ready to dive into a brand-new universe.
The Spirit Glass centers around Corazon Lopez as she is on the cusp of her twelfth birthday. By now, most other kids like her have come into their magical abilities, and considering both her mother and her aunt were exceptionally talented, she has no idea why she hasn’t become a full-fledged babaylan yet.
As troubling as this is, she’s got plenty to look forward to. Namely, Saturday night dinners with her parents. Though, if you’re expecting some typical family dynamics here, you might be in for a shock.
You see, Corazon lost her parents in a car crash where she was the sole survivor. Thanks to the soul key that hangs around her neck, she’s allowed to call them forth from the Beyond once a week in order to spend time together.
Everything would be perfect, except Corazon’s guardian, her Aunt Tina, never partakes in this tradition, staying holed up in her room while her sister and her brother-in-law spend a few hours with their daughter. It’s not that Aunt Tina doesn’t care about Corazon; it’s that she has a literal hands-off approach to parenting. She calls hugs plague bridges, after all.
One night, after visiting the realm of the Midnight Bridge, Corazon’s soul key is stolen by a malevolent spirit determined to use it to find what has been lost to her. To get it back, Corazon must gain the blessings of two mythical creatures and return to the Library of Mirrors before the spirit realm collides with the mortal world and causes irreversible damage.
As you can see, the stakes are high and the mysteries are deep in The Spirit Glass. If you loved Roshani’s first series centering on Aru Shah, you’ll find plenty to love here despite the fact that it’s a whole new world with a brand new heroine taking the lead. The writing reminds me more of what I experienced in Rosh’s debut adult novel, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride, though the adventure and humor are reminiscent of her other RRP series.
Where Aru had a lot of growing up to do, Corazon is already quite mature for her age. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that she lost her parents before she turned twelve, or maybe it’s because she’s had to take care of herself while Aunt Tina remains mysterious and aloof.
Though there is certainly some growth over the course of this book, Corazon’s major obstacles include piecing together the puzzle laid out before her. Who is the spirit who stole the soul key, and what is she looking for? Why is Aunt Tina so standoffish, and what secrets is she hiding about their family? Even the spirit of a young boy named Leo who helps guide her on her journey seems to be part of this story, though his lack of memories makes it difficult to discern his purpose in all of this.
Throughout the story, Corazon must think on her feet and look deep within herself to solve the problems set out before her. Where she could’ve taken the easy road, she chooses to put in the hard work to ensure she gives everyone she meets a fair trade. And if that’s not the definition of a hero, I don’t know what is.
The creatures Corazon stumbles across are both mythical and relatable. Haven’t we all suffered from loneliness and digestive issues!? Just because they might be a giant sea serpent or a monster who slurps out entrails doesn’t mean they’re all that different to us—which is exactly what Corazon learns as she meets each and every one.
There are so many aspects of this book that I want to mention in this Spirit Glass book review that it’s difficult not to reveal too much. The spirits and monsters throughout the novel were equal parts terrifying and awe-inspiring—sometimes at the same time! I wouldn’t want to meet a manananggal in the dead of night (and neither do you, trust me), yet I wouldn’t mind cooking up a quick meal with the diwati.
Speaking of food—I loved every dish, both real and imagined, that Roshani dreamed up for this book. If you enjoyed the way Graci Kim described food in her Gifted Clans series, then I know The Spirit Glass is going to make your mouth water just as easily.
At the end of the day, this book is the perfect balance of magical adventure, side-splitting comedy, spooky backdrops, and emotional resonance. From the start, it pulls you in and keeps you hooked until you’re madly flipping the pages to learn all the secrets they hold. With The Spirit Glass, Roshani once again proves she’s a master story-teller who knows how to weave her own kind of magic.
Oh, and before I sign off on this Spirit Glass book review, I have to mention Corazon’s ever-present companion, Saso. He’s a gecko who thinks he’s a crocodile, and he’s HUNGRY FOR VENGEANCE … and also beetles. With themes that deal heavily with death and grief, Saso’s levity was a balm for the soul. I would’ve loved this story without him, but he brought an extra dimension to Corazon’s tale that made it truly something spectacular.
Though The Spirit Glass is being pitched as a stand-alone novel, we’ve seen other Rick Riordan Presents titles get sequels even years down the line. While I feel as though Corazon’s story ended in a perfect spot, I wouldn’t say no to letting Roshani explore this world further. After all, mirrors are doorways to new worlds, and every single one has a story to tell.
‘The Spirit Glass’ by Roshani Chokshi published on September 5, 2023
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