Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: March 1st, 2011
Grade rating: B-
Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status. Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted... by magic. When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.Review:
Dark Mirror started off really well, and I genuinely enjoyed the first 100 or so pages. I was starting to get hooked on Tory's story of magic and propriety, and I couldn't wait to see what Lackland Abbey had in store for her. Then the book switched settings and time periods, and from there seemed to slow down. It wasn't as fast-paced as I thought it would be, and the lure of the beginning of the book somehow got lost along the way. I did love that it moved to World War Two, though. I love anything WWII-related!
That's not to say Dark Mirror was a bad book, because it wasn't. All the right ingredients were there, they were just a little slow to get going. My favourite characters turned out to be those from Lackland Abbey, Miss Wheaton in particular, along with Mr Stephens from the local boys' school. Tory herself was a well-rounded, interesting protagonist, though I wasn't convinced by her love interest. Whether I'll warm to him more in future books, I don't know. It's definitely a possibility though.
The use and explanation of magic in Dark Mirror was well executed, and it's something I'd like to see a lot more of in further books in the series. I'm all for historical fiction and escaping to a different time period for a while, so I'm hoping we'll go back to Tory's time in the next book. Her life in Regency London was fascinating, with a certain Austen air about it. That alone would make me pick up the next instalment of Tory's story, and fingers crossed I'll like the man in her life a bit more!
Why did you decide to write for a YA audience?
I really wanted to write more fantasy and magic, which I love. The YA genre has a great deal of freedom—more than romance, where the story has to be focused on a developing relationship—so it seemed like exactly the right place for story of time traveling mages. Since I’m a regular YA reader, I didn’t feel as if I’d fallen to an alien planet. (Unlike poor Tory!)
How much research did you have to do in order to make Dark Mirror as historically accurate as possible?
The majority of the books I’ve written have been set in Regency England, and I’d often thought about the similarities to England in WWII. In both cases. England stood alone against a powerful Continental conqueror, protected by the English Channel, the British Navy, and the courage of their people. It was easy to see how Regency mages might be drawn to a similar time period where their abilities would be needed.
But there was a huge amount of research for the WWII part of the story! The war is within living memory, so it was a real challenge to get the details right. I did my best, including having two Englishwomen read the ms., one of the old enough to have some memories. Even so, some errors surely crept in. But I do try to get things right.
What do you have planned for the next book in the series?
Lots of challenges, of course! In Dark Passage, Tory and her friends are drawn into a dangerous rescue mission very different from what they did in Dark Mirror. Relationships grow and change, too. It takes place only a few months after Dark Mirror.
If you were a student at Lackland and could have any Mage power, what would you choose and why?
Being an enchantress with the ability to persuade others to do what I want would be cool but bad. I’d love to be able to transport myself from one place to another. (Without the side effects of going through Merlin’s Mirror, of course.) Think how great it would be to spend a weekend in Venice or Vancouver or Cape Town without the hassles of flying and jetlag!
If you found your own Merlin's Mirror and could travel back to any time period in history, where would you choose? I think I'd like to go back to 1912 to see the Titanic in person! (And warn Captain Smith, of course!)
Probably the English Regency, which is the early 19th century. There were so many interesting things going on. Society was changing, becoming more open and democratic. Literacy and opportunities were increasing. There were revolutions in the creative arts. And the clothes were more comfortable than they’d been in a couple of centuries.
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