Janet's Reviews > Dark Mirror

Dark Mirror by Mary Jo Putney
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Apr 01, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: feel-good-fantasy, young-adult

Dark Mirror is named for my least favorite plot device in the story - a magical mirror that haphazardly sends the protagonist, young Lady Victoria (Tory), forward in time from circa 1800 to WWII. In my opinion, by setting her first novel in the series in both time periods, the story became a bit thin in both. I would have preferred a first installment set in 1800 going right up to the first time travel event.

Putney had a interesting setup: a world where magic has come to be accepted among commoners, but atrociously gauche for the nobility, so much so that nobles who display magic are instantly sent away to a convent/monastery style school to learn to suppress it completely before reentering society. In this first installment of the Dark Mirror series, Putney didn't use this contrast for anything beyond a bit of flouncing and snubbing when aristocratic teen mages come to work with the commoners. Putney made it easy to invest in Tory as a character, in her struggles to decide who to be in the conflict between the mores of society and family and the draw of her magic. However, other characters are quickly sketched, as is the setting. There are hints of more character reveals and development to come, though, so overall I'd withhold judgement to see what happens next.

As much fun as the 1940s action was in the story, I was unsatisfied with the author's motive for time travel. I couldn't find one beyond, 'gee wouldn't it be fun to have this happen,' which I didn't find very satisfying in comparison to some of the phenomenal YA time travel stories I have read recently, like Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze: a novel. Apart from being a bit startled by the changes in clothing and technology, Tory didn't learn or discover anything notable in the future; it was simply a place to flex her magic. Overall, I'd say this is a light read only, so pick it up when you're in the mood for a quick skim of historical fantasy.
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