Book Review: Heart of Glass by Ivy Ngeow

A gritty and twisted love letter to 80s disco pop culture that boasts a whole lotta hustle. Imagine Pretty Woman, Goodfellas and Flash Dance rolled into one and you’ll get a sense of the vibe flowing from Heart of Glass.

Chicago 1980. Li-an Donohue’s luck changes the instant she meets a mysterious Italian businessman in the Drake Hotel. Hearing her play, he offers her a job in Macau on the spot. 

She’s there in a heartbeat. From a drab Chicago winter to swimming pools, Sémillon Blanc and lobster. It seems perfect. Li-an has her own private pavilion on the estate of a colonial gothic mansion. But easy livin’ is harder than she thought. She’s homesick. Lonely. And beginning to think it might not be all it seems.

Until she meets slick New Yorker DJ, Ben. He is the ring-a-ding, the daddy cool of the club scene who shares her passion for – her obsession with – music. An island in China isn’t fun when you’re desperate to cut a recording deal, make it big in disco, he says. Ben has a secret plan. But it sure doesn’t sound like music to Li-an’s ears…

Heart of Glass oozes nostalgia. If you’re loving the trending throwback to 80’s pop culture in books, films and all sorts of fandom at the moment then this book will play right into your hands as there is no shortage of 80’s fuelled easter eggs through-out.

While there is an evident literary feel to the narrative, at its heart the book is a gutsy and intense thriller full of unruly characters that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino movie.

Full of energy and perfectly paced Heart of Glass is an absolute rocket!

4 star book review

A very deserving 4-star read.

Heart of Glass was published by Unbound in Spring 2018 and is available now on eBook and Paperback.


About the author

Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A graduate of the Middlesex University Writing MA programme, Ivy won the 2005 Middlesex University Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. She has written non-fiction for Marie Claire, The Star, The New Straits Times, South London Society of Architects’ Newsletter and Wimbledon magazine. Her fiction has appeared in Silverfish New Writing anthologies twice, The New Writer and on the BBC World Service. Most recently, her story was published by Fixi Novo in an anthology.

Ivy won first prize in the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition 1994, first prize in the Barnes and Noble Career Essay Writing competition 1998 and was shortlisted for the David T K Wong Fellowship 1998 and the Ian St James Award 1999.

Ivy has been a highly-accomplished multi-instrumental musician since childhood and won fifth prize (out of 850 entrants) in the 2006 1-MIC (Music Industry Charts) UK Award for her original song – Celebrity, when she formed her own band, Satsuma (2005-07). Her songs are funky, modern and eclectic, with strong urban grooves and lyrics. Satsuma has played headlining gigs at top London venues such as: The Marquee Club, The Troubadour Club, The Water Rats, The Betsey Trotwood, Plan B and Clockwork.

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