Spy Glass is Maria V. Snyder's conclusion to her Glass trilogy, which is a spin-off from her Study books; the main character, Opal, is a supporting character in the Study series, and many Study main characters make guest appearances in the Glass books.
In Spy Glass, Snyder wraps up a few dangling threads that had been left hanging, including what really should have been the main plot of Sea Glass, the second book in the trilogy. Again, as with the other books in this set, plots appear and are brushed aside and things are barely linked to each other. Opal spends most of her time rushing to and fro across the realm of Sitia without actually accomplishing much. This is really a pity, because I thought Spy Glass had the strongest premise of the Glass books going into it, and was much stronger to start out. Unfortunately, that all devolved once again, leaving a bit of a mess in its wake and a problem that Snyder just kept on perpetuating...
So, Spy Glass occurs in the wake of Sea Glass. Opal doesn't have magic anymore, the result of draining her magic in an effort to save herself and her friends at the end of Sea Glass. What she does have is a null shield in her, which means that magic can't really affect her and which is both good and bad. But early in the book, Opal figures out that some of the blood harvested from her at the end of Sea Glass was never recovered, which means that someone could have it and be using it as part of blood magic. Opal's entire story has been more or less about stopping blood magic rather than about learning to use her own glass magic, so of course she charges off to stop them. This was really the strongest part of the book: Opal figuring out how to get the information about her blood, and then going to get said information. This is probably because it was more like a Study book than a Glass book, and Snyder seems to have a stronger grasp of the characters and plots she created in the Study series. But this part of the book also brings Devlen back into the picture, which is a huge huge huge problem because Snyder continues to push him as a love interest even though he has repeatedly lied to and tortured the heroine.
After Opal gets the information she needs, well... Things start to devolve. Again, Opal is running every which way without really getting anything done. She hithers and yons to her family's lands, to Kade's family's lands, to the Magician's Keep, to see a friend and investigate some black diamonds... And of course, she refuses to see things along the way and ends up in a world of trouble, with a bunch of people (everyone) thinking she's dead, when she's really been kidnapped and is set to be put into a cult as a breeder. Ew. This is the plot that should have happened in Sea Glass but somehow got pushed by the wayside for a bunch of, well, nothing. In the rush to shove it into this book and wrap up everything at once, a few glaring things remain, such as how does Opal get magic back and use it if she still has a null shield? What about her magic detectors? Is that just going away entirely? What about the glass messengers, since that whole operation got derailed and wasn't really what it was portrayed to be in the first place? All of these are just left dangling, with no resolution in sight. You can't really say that Snyder planned to wrap them up in the next set of Study books because those weren't even planned when Spy Glass was written.
And then there's Devlen. Let's talk about Opal's relationships for a moment, shall we? In Spy Glass, Devlen, the guy who kidnapped, tortured, and has repeatedly lied to and betrayed Opal, makes a reappearance, and to some degree keeps up his old deceptive behaviors. Despite that, Opal continues to view him as a love interest, and in fact a more desirable one than Kade, her proclaimed boyfriend. Granted, Opal and Kade's life goals don't really match up with each other. Kade ultimately realizes this and deals with the situation like an adult, suggesting that they go their separate ways but that he will remain in her life to support her in a platonic manner if she needs him. Opal, meanwhile, runs off and cheats on Kade with a guy who she has absolutely no reason to trust and who, at a few points, would have been perfectly happy to kill her. But no, that does not matter to Opal. All that matters to Opal is that he is a good kisser and has also lost his magic, so he understands her when no one else does. Please. This is a terrible relationship example. Terrible. I cannot even put into words how bad this is, and yet it's supposed to be all sweet and sexy and fulfilling. NO! IT IS NOT. IT IS BAD. PEOPLE WHO KIDNAP AND TORTURE YOU SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS VIABLE LOVE INTERESTS EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING TO DIE SOON.
And I do want to discuss one more thing: how Opal's story reflects the world of Sitia around her. Throughout the course of Opal's three books, seemingly dozens of new types of magic have been discovered, from people being able to switch bodies, to people gaining extra magic if they inject the blood of another magician, to messengers and magic detectors, to cold glass magic, and so on. Snyder tries to highlight how these discoveries have the potential to change how life in Sitia works, and they do--but that Opal somehow discovers or plays a hand in discovering them all lends itself to the impression that, without Opal, life in Sitia would have been completely stagnant, trapped where it was, and that she is a driving force of change, and that nothing has changed in Sitia for ages until Opal came around and sparked it all. Opal is not strong enough character to pull this off, and really it made Sitia feel as if it was lacking a rich history because everything is happening now.
Overall, Opal's story continued to its conclusion the way it had been all along: a hot mess. It's a pity, because I think Opal could have been a very interesting character if she weren't so continually stupid and ineffectual, and if she had, every once in a while, made a decent decision. As it was, she can't really be called a strong main character, the skews off in every other direction without resolving a lot of things that seem to be pretty important, all the while highlighting things that either aren't important or shouldn't have been. The beginning part was strong, but once Opal really got on the road again, it lost all sense of true purpose and logic. This was not a good conclusion, and this was not a good series.
2 stars out of 5.