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The Mirror Thief

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,841 ratings  ·  387 reviews
The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world's most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination—was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing?—the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology and subject to industri ...more
Hardcover, 582 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Melville House Publishing
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Chaya Nebel agree with Mitch -- it's a pretentious literary quirk. I am finding it (still wading through at 300 pages) very irritating. There are times when it's …moreagree with Mitch -- it's a pretentious literary quirk. I am finding it (still wading through at 300 pages) very irritating. There are times when it's not clear if the words are thoughts or dialogue, and times when it's not clear if it's character or narrator speaking. I am this close to ending my sojourn through this book....(less)
Mitch McCrimmon I looked at the Kindle sample of this book - maybe I'm old fashioned but one word sentences, no quotes around dialogue, sorry not for me. Also, the na…moreI looked at the Kindle sample of this book - maybe I'm old fashioned but one word sentences, no quotes around dialogue, sorry not for me. Also, the narrator is too self-conscious as if taking our hand like a tour guide pointing things out rather than just telling a story as if the narrator was invisible. (less)

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Average rating 3.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,841 ratings  ·  387 reviews

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Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
…we sometimes find that our most momentous decisions are unseen by us as we make them. We perceive only a confusion of paltry choices, like the tesserae of a mosaic. Only with distance do prevailing images become clear.

in which the novel teasingly moons you with its own mission statement.

this is a great big enjoyable monster of a book.

before we start, i need to say that the ONLY reason i gave it four stars instead of five is because this is a book divided into three alternating narratives and w
May 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Annoyed, Baffled, Confounded
Three Ordeals Spanning Centuries
Which Description Refers to Reading this Novel, not the Stories Therein

I would prefer an oversized catheterization to reading 20 pages of this

Perhaps I wasn't worldly enough to connect the dots. The novel was really well written. All 3 story strands headed in the right direction, holding my interest for the big payoff. You know, the part of the novel in which the author ties it all together to the "moment of last suspense" in the trus
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read it before anyone else because my spouse wrote it. But it's really really good, truly, not just because my spouse wrote it. ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
The blurb of this book promises us something as good as Umberto Eco and David Mitchell’s writing. In reality, I’m afraid, it’s not even Dan Brown. It’s one of those pretentious books where art, history and supposedly sophisticated prose are mixed to throw its author’s erudition and brilliance right at poor reader’s face. Where Eco, Mitchell and Cabré are just effortlessly glowing with quick-witted intelligence, Seay does his utmost to live up to (most likely) his own expectations. To hook the re ...more
Apr 03, 2016 added it
Shelves: debut, fiction, e-galley
Outstanding Debut!

My sincere thanks are extended to Melville House and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read The Mirror Thief in e-galley format, due to be published May 10, 2016.

The Mirror Thief is quite an ambitious debut. Seay is clearly a new voice to watch. A little intrigue, a little magic, mixed in with history and a mystery, The Mirror Thief takes us on a captivating quest across place and time to find a gambling con artist. Fascinating characters, expertly imagined and thoroughly engagi
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Three stars from me, although that's a bit higher than I want to rate it. But 2 stars would be too mean. I don't want this review to put others off reading this book, though, because I would really like to know what others make of it!

The reviews make mention of David Mitchell and even, on occasion, Thomas Pynchon. It is nothing like David Mitchell and even less like Thomas Pynchon. If you pick it up purely because of those comparisons, be warned.

This is a book about a book (The Mirror Thief is a
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to TL by: karen
Shelves: favorites
My book fairy has graced me again :) *big hugs *
It ain't me specifically me I'm worried about, Mister Welles. It's everything else. I just don't always feel like I belong in this world.

An intricate, enchanting, incredible feat of a story here... One of those novels that leaves you thinking over the words long after you've finished. I found myself often pausing in my reading, not because I was pushing myself to get through it but for two reasons: To think over the words and the story, and be
Timothy Moore
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book - both thrilling and intelligent - I get a headache thinking about how much research Martin must have done to bring these three eras alive (the book follows characters in three distinct periods). I don't want to spoil too much, as I think part of the surprise is uncovering the mystery of the book itself, BUT I will say this - what really stood out to me, even beyond the surreal mysticism and beautiful writing, was Martin's deft examination of trauma and how it shapes a ...more
Apr 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really had high hopes for this one. REALLY DISAPPOINTING. Rambling, overwritten and BORING! If the author spent half as much effort on a plot instead of filling page after page of uninteresting minutia and had an editor cut the book by half it might have been OK. Seay actually has a decent writing style, so I think maybe a future novel will be better. Slogged through half of it and couldn't take any more. I hate not finishing a book, but there are too many good books to read to waste time on t ...more
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I have an Advance Reader Copy of The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay, due to be released in a week or two by Melville House. I read the entire thing yesterday, a feat of a certain sort since it clocks in at just under 600 pages. Melville House is quoting lots of indie booksellers & reviewers giving high praise to this one so I was anticipating a lot, I think. This is Seay's first novel &, as that, it is quite impressive. However, some of the descriptions are comparing it to David Mitchell's Cloud At ...more
Book Riot Community
Fans of David Mitchell will enjoy this enormous, epic novel of interwoven stories transcending time and space. Set in three different Venices – Italy, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles – and involving mirror makers, espionage, ominous councils, secret plans and more, this is an utterly original story that will spin your brain in your skull.

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:
Robert Stewart
Mar 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The comparisons to Pynchon, Nabokov, Eco and David Mitchell are not only unwarranted, but not even apt . When I became convinced I was reading YA (about 200 pages in) I shelved it. I love big novels, but this is insubstantial bloat.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So yes, I admit it, I went into Martin Seay's The Mirror Thief specifically searching for things I could find wrong with it, because it's been the subject this year of overhype -- a 600-page debut novel that spans across three different timeframes and genres, it's earned Seay a lot more mainstream press th
This is one of the times when my having met the author helped me finish the book. I'm not sure I would have finished otherwise. At almost 600 pages, I would say that I have a firm grasp of what happened on about 200 of those pages. If I had to take a test, I would have to bs my way through it and hope for the best.

I can see why The Mirror Thief is getting a lot of praise especially for a debut novel. The writing is so descriptive I felt like I was in places I've never been before. It wasn't my m
Chaya Nebel
Jul 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Very annoying pretentious habit of omitting quotation marks around dialogue, forcing the reader to stop at multiple spots to suss out if it's the narrator speaking or the character, or if the character is thinking or talking. Or which character is talking.

Very annoying pretentious habit of coining compound words. To wit: "artform," "creampuff," "lakebed," "cardcounters," "waterfountain," "groundsquirrels." Etc. Etc.

Excruciating amount of minutiae dealing with setting. Descriptions ad infinitum o
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Linda by: Booktopia - Edelweiss
Yes, I took more than 6 months to read this book. It was not because I didn't like it. It was too rich for me to digest in a short sitting. I easily got lost in this book (not in a bad way). I was involved in the multiple stories this book relates. The language! Rich, foreign, new! My kind of book. Thank you, Martin Seay!
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Veronica, a minor character in THE MIRROR THIEF, teaches Curtis Stone about art. She uses her background in art history to inform him that the primary goal of art was to create precise representations of reality. This often meant tracing a camera obscura image. Photography made this approach less important. Thus the modern era in art began by exploring how perception alters reality. “Now it’s all about two eyes and a brain in between.”

This conversation helps to understand Martin Seay’s novel be
Blaine DeSantis
May 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I have read real junk books that I have rated a 1*. This is not that bad, but I am wondering if I got a copy of a different book from everyone else who has been raving about this?? It was pretty, pretty bad to put it mildly. First of all the book summaries begins by telling us a bit about the glass and mirror trade in Venice and secrets and mysteries that are happening there in the late 1500's. Then it says there are two other parallel stories that are set in the Venice Beach and at the Venetian ...more
Hunter Beck
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. You will think about it while you sleep. You will dream about it all day long. Most days I could not wait to get back to reading it. This is a book that really consumes your thoughts, with its time bending journey, it keeps your mind spinning. Martin Seay tells this story with inexplicable greatness and resounding depth. A great debut novel. Anxious to see what more is to come. Martin Seay is in my opinion, one of the next greats.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most unique, educational and interesting books I’ve ever read. It is meant to be savored, not swallowed in one sitting. The overall rating it has is...a joke.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Man, what a book!
Something between a hard-boiled story and a kabbalistic treatise with a flavor of beatnik prose, this book is ultimately about wanting to penetrate deeper than the appearances of the world and gain control of it (by gambling, poetry or alchemy) - despite the overwhelming feeling of being at loss, of being watched, of being a part of process that you don't understand.
The author sets each scene meticulously, describing fleeting details that immediately form a scene you seem to rec
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
We begin in glitzy Las Vegas, 2003, as a war weary, ex-marine tracks down a con artist gambler, who happens to be an old family friend. We then shift to Venice Beach, circa 1958, where a runaway, New York teenager is in search of a poet, that wrote a little book called The Mirror Thief. It is about an alchemist from the sixteenth century. And finally, you guessed it, we travel to Venice, in the late 1500s and follow this alchemist, as he plans to steal an enchanted mirror.
How the author weaves t
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This book didn't quite do it for me. Set up as three separate but related stories sort of like Cloud Atlas or Arcadia, this one never tied the stories together to my satisfaction. And I struggled to stay interested in the Venice storyline, which is unfortunate since that's where the actual mirror thievery was happening. The other two settings were very engaging and entertaining and well done, so maybe my reaction here is due to plot. I finished wanting to read about Stan's abilities and outlook ...more
Boris Feldman
700 pages later, I still don't understand a thing. The prose is good. Some of the pieces are engaging. But I wish that I had given up after 200 pages. ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
After 20 pages I decided life is to short to finish this book. It's a collection of random sentences, that go nowhere. I am moving on. ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing. Very intriguing.

I think this is a book that would benefit from multiple reads, because the story lines are each so complex, even on their own, and the ways in which they are interwoven with each other so intricate, that I am sure I didn't even come close to picking up all that was going on. It admittedly took me a while to get into the book, in no small part because the story line that is primarily highlighted in the novel's description, the one taking place in 16th-century Venice,
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the first time in a long time, I finished this book and didn't want to immediately start another. Like Stanley Glass, I thought about just picking up the puzzle box again. Engaging characters with secrets, excellent writing, and (mostly) well-paced plot - these things make me happy. But what really snared me were the ideas presented on perception, and reality, and memory. The motif of mirrors is repeated again and again, and the narrators look repeatedly for a clarity of vision: to literally ...more
Katie Lawrence
Apr 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I do not understand in any way what I just read... I had high hopes for a thrilling, surprising ending and instead was left feeling very confused. I'll write more tomorrow once I've had some time to process.

Review for the Library Journal:

Following three different stories during three different time periods, this debut novel is a complex read. Curtis, a former military policeman, searches for missing family friend Stanley in Las Vegas’s Venetian hotel casino. Curtis believes Stanley stole money
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a mind-boggling epic novel with an alternating narrative between three interconnected stories. One is set in Las Vegas in 2003, and follows a first Gulf War veteran, Curtis, as he searches for his father's old friend Stanley, a professional gambler who's suspected of being involved in pulling off a sting in New Jersey. One is set in Los Angeles and follows Stanley in 1958, when he was a homeless teenage drifter, living on his wits, and was searching for the author of a book of poetry, Th ...more
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, complex debut novel. The story takes place in 3 different time periods in 3 different Venices. This was not an easy, breezy read, but the payoff at the end was so worth it. Martin Seay writes beautiful sentences. This is a book full of flowery prose and without quotation marks, but throughout, I always knew who was speaking. I so enjoyed this long literary story!
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The ancient Venetian background story... 1 32 May 02, 2016 05:36PM  

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Martin Seay is the author of the novel THE MIRROR THIEF, published by Melville House in May 2016. Originally from Texas, he lives in Chicago with his spouse, the writer Kathleen Rooney.

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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“Often we are told, and rightly so, that we can know God by knowing ourselves, for we are made in His image. We are not base, it is said, but divine. Yet this, perhaps, is saying too much. For even in our baseness—in our excrement—we might discern the work of our Creator. All things come from God, Crivano says. Even shit can be sublimed. But should it be? Tristão fixes Crivano with a fierce glare. Then he steps to the windows, and with a smooth sudden motion slings the chamberpot’s contents into the canal below. The liquid strikes the surface with a weak slap. Should it be sublimed? Tristão says. Should it be transcended? When we seek to do this, is our desire truly to know God? Or is it to know that God truly is as we always have imagined him: the perfect distillate of our corrupt selves? So—we are made in the image of God. Have we considered what this might mean? Innumerable are the egos in man, Paracelsus writes, and in him are angels and devils, heaven and hell. Perhaps God too is like this. Pure and impure. Is it so difficult to imagine? A God of flesh and bone? A God that shits? His voice chokes off, as if overwhelmed by some passion: rage, sorrow, Crivano can’t guess which. Tristão drifts away, toward his own approaching form in the mirror-talisman; the image of his torso gradually fills the glass. With the silver window eclipsed the room seems to grow smaller; Crivano shuffles his feet to keep his balance. I want to know, Tristão says, how God is unlike us. I want to know how our eyes become traitors. To know what they refuse to see. I no longer seek to transcend, nor even to understand. I want only to dirty my hands. To smell. To feel. Like a child who plays with mud. I believe the key is here— His fingers brush the flat glass before him; they’re met by fingers from the opposite side. —but not in the way that others have said. The Nolan warned us of this. Do you remember? He said the image in the mirror is like the image in a dream: only fools and infants mistake it for the true likeness of the world, but likewise it is foolish to ignore what it shows us. Therein lies the danger. Do we look upon these reflections without delusion, like bold Actaeon? Or, like Narcissus, do we see only what we wish to see? How can we be certain? With love in our hearts, we creep toward each shining surface, but we are all haunted, always, by ourselves.” 1 likes
“If one is to wield power, he says, then one must control the image of power. Or” 1 likes
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