Dark Mirror by M J Putney
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin (MacMillan Imprint)
Release Date: 1st March 2011 (US)
Genre: Young Adult
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.
But Tory’s life is about to change forever. All that she’s ever known or considered important will be challenged. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth.
It’s taken me a few days to write this review because whilst I did like the story, it also wound me up too. I don’t profess to know a lot about the time period Tory is from, but I know enough about English history to know when not enough research has been done to write this story. It started well, and it was believable, but then mannerisms and speech from that era started to slip the further we went into the book. Then add in a couple of unbelievable moments and I felt slightly flummoxed as to what was going on in this story.
So, magic exists. People use it openly and other people who have no magic hire people with magic, mages, to do things for them. Well, the rich/nobility do the hiring because magic doesn’t exist in their lineage. Then the rich/nobility start to think that they’re using magic for gain, and bring about some form of ban on magic...largely in the nobility circles. Anyone born with magical abilities in noble families is shipped off to Lackland Abbey to suppress these shameful talents.
When we meet Lady Victoria, she’s just discovering that she has magic in her blood and is horrified- and her father. So off she’s sent to Lackland Abbey to rid her of her magic. All this was where the book was written well. The time period seemed believable and the story flowed lovely. But then Tory gets to Lackland and too many characters are flung at you at once (and things start to slip in the quality of the story). Even though I did like the mixture of characters, they were too…’textbook’ and most of the time all of them were in the same scene. It doesn’t take much to confuse me in a scene with lots of characters.
Once the story has settled with these characters, there’s a new turn of events that takes Tory to the Second World War. Everything that happens here becomes a little much. Characters who’ve never known they were magical learn magical talents in just a couple of days. The 19th Century etiquette and speech drops. And an editor didn’t do their job- there was the odd ‘Mom’ in there and some speech patterns that were quite American. (I hope that isn’t taken the wrong way, it’s just this book was set in early 19th Century England and it didn’t feel like it. I love you, America, you have my heart and excellent YA books!)
There were certain parts involving the Second World War that just broke my heart. Anything to do with the two wars breaks my heart. That part was written very well and I loved every page of it. Even with the dodgy character moments.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, despite what I’ve written. There was something, even with these questionable moments, that kept me hooked, kept me reading. The writing just worked. I think it also helped that the synopsis didn’t really give away much of the plot, so you don’t expect some of the things that happen in the book. Please take what I say lightly, I’m a nitpicker, and go into the book lightly. You’ll enjoy it.