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Dark Mirror

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Na Inglaterra do século XIX, a magia pode mudar a história. Lady Victoria Mansfield, Tory, tem por destino uma vida encantadora e uma gama de pretendentes à sua altura. Até que uma assustadora descoberta ameaça arruinar sua vida e denegrir o nome de sua família para sempre: seu sangue está contaminado... por magia. Quando um terrível acidente obriga Tory a revelar seus poderes mágicos, ela é imediatamente exilada para um reformatório para jovens que carregam o terrível dom da magia. O maior desejo da garota é ser curada, voltar para casa e, talvez, recuperar um pouco de sua vida despedaçada. Em vez disso, porém, a curiosidade e a atração pela magia levam a jovem a se unir a alunos rebeldes, que resolveram usar seus poderes mágicos para proteger a Inglaterra. Ao participar dos estudos secretos do grupo, ela descobre a dimensão de seus poderes e se vê atraída pelo charmoso e enigmático marquês de Allarde. Embora ela possa ver o desejo em seus olhos, um aterrorizante segredo o mantém sempre à distância. Será possível que a escolha de Tory consiga aproximá-la de Allarde, a despeito de tudo que se interpõe entre eles?

304 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2011

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About the author

M.J. Putney

9 books40 followers
This is a pseudonym for Mary Jo Putney.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 406 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
609 reviews202 followers
August 19, 2020
This is such a neat little book. At a blush, I could say that this endearing 17th century story is about royalty, magic and time travel. While, indeed, we do get that; I feel that the story is about so much more. For me, it is about making choices. Throughout the story, there are reminders that everyone has the free will to make a cognizant decision: choose your own path, or comfortably follow the herd. Further, we are reminded that this doesn’t have to be a permanent, one-time-only choice. We can always reconsider.

Magic, to many, is a gift. It is to be nurtured, a skill that must be consistently developed and refined. Commoners who are blessed as mages are oft employed by the aristocracy for their specific skills—from small things like ensuring good weather for a special event to healing a royal family member. As royalty, appearances are more important than we can conceive of in today’s time. Maintaining public approval is imperative, even if it means watching a loved one die. Despite the obvious need for magic, royalty shall have none of it flowing through their blue blood. When a member of a royal family is found to possess magic, the member is sent to Lackland Abbey to be cured. Why? Is it because this is the one thing the aristocracy can’t obtain, despite their station & wealth?

Among those that struggle to answer this question, we have our main character, Lady Victoria Mansfield “Tory”. She is an outstanding example of what a young girl can be capable of. I admire her strength, courage and kindness. Her deliberation prior to making tough choices is impressive. She consistently demonstrates her unique ability to maintain a balance that she can live with, by marching to the beat of her own drummer, without stomping on the sheep. In doing so, Tory is yanked from the comforts of family and home and rudely deposited in the dismal world that is Lackland Abbey.

Do the outside royal families really know what goes on at Lackland Abbey? Does everyone want to be “cured”, even though the taint of magic never really disappears, original status is never reinstated? Doesn’t anyone wish to understand and control magic? Can’t the magic be used for good?

As Tory’s life changes, her country prepares itself for an attack. Students’ narcissistic thoughts of returning home are replaced with hopes and desires to protect Britain. A secret world is revealed. Many young people would choose to thumb their noses at public perception for the opportunity to protect their home.

Dark Mirror tells their story. The selflessness and courage displayed by a small group of young outcasts is inspiring. The bonds created by working so hard together for a common cause show hope that we can all get along, and that very good things happen when we do. This tells of a truth in history that isn’t contained in current class curriculums. Because it is peppered with magic, time travel and a bit of romance, it is an entertaining story as well.
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
772 reviews512 followers
January 3, 2015
This could have been so good - and the beginning was indeed extremely promising: A young English Lady born into an alternative version of the Georgian era who is able to fly! A society which has chosen to shun gentryfolk with magical abilities, but embraces the "tainted blood" in commoners out of convenience. A gothic, prison-like boarding-school that is meant to un-magic the rich boarders, who represent a burden and a genetic embarrassment for their families. And finally ... a club of secret magic users, romance and time travel!

My high-flying hopes plummeted pretty quickly to the ground like a stone ... or rather like Lady Victoria Markham, who - in the couse of the whole story floats only four times altogether. Think of the wasted possibilities! Who wouldn't have loved a hidden, female superwoman in stays and laces instead of ill-fitting spandex? Alas, our overtly nicey-nice, goody-goody heroine opts not to talk about her elating gift at all and – after finding out that she possesses the more commmunity-friendly and boring skill of channeling other mages' energy and taping into other peoples' magical ressources on top, she concentrates solely on promoting that one. Maybe because she shrewedly noticed the match-making potential of hand-holding within a circle. (The reader shall not begrudge her since her value on the matrimonial market is pitiful.)

Certainly there were additional aspects that often peeve me – like the obligatory rich, bitchily mean roomate -, but they would have been forgivable, if the heroine and the majority of the supporting cast were life-like and interesting characters who constantly kindled my interest. In the case of „Dark Mirror“ the muscles operating my eye-balls felt well-trained quite soon.

As far as the girly part of the storyline is concerned, I feel rather cheated and not really taken seriously as a regular reader. I had always thought that the average author roughly sketches the main turning points / important landmarks before plunging into a wild scribbling marathon. Apparantly I guessed wrong. I imagine Mrs. Putney inserted the first hint at a later budding romance when introducing the love-interest; then she was distracted by all the action in her head and wrote and wrote and wrote about Lady Tory’s adventures. When the the story started to reach the climax (after about three quarters oft he plot), she suddenly remembered promising her publisher a paranomal romance and broke out in panic. That resulted in a rushed, melodramatic I-cannot-live-without-you-and-am-about-to-ruin-you-since-you-are-my-sun-and-my-moon historical soap opera. B.t.w., the narrator speaks of the love-interest like of a healthy horse – admirable pedigree and all.

I really had to force myself to finish reading „Dark Mirror“. That reluctance on my side had not been something I had anticipated after enjoying the first one or two chapters. However, if you like historical, paranomal teen-romances like „A Great and Terrible Beauty“ (Bray), you might enjoy Dark Mirror“ as well. So inspite of my ranting I do not want to un-recommend it in general.
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,806 reviews541 followers
May 7, 2011
When I heard Mary Jo Putney, like many authors, had jumped on the YA bandwagon, at first I was skeptical. But after reading the blurb for Dark Mirror and seeing it was a YA historical paranormal, I decided to give it a read. Let me get this out of the way first and say that the first half of Dark Mirror is lovely. The heroine, Tory is wonderfully written and insightful. Mary Jo, or rather, M.J. has created a magic and mystical world. But then it was like someone threw a bucket of cold water over my head. M.J. did something somewhat of a WTF and so out of left field, that I wanted to throw the book against the wall. She starts out writing a paranormal historical that out of the blue transforms into a time travel that takes place 140 years in the future and during the start of World War II. Sorry to say, this doesn’t work at all, and as I continued to read to my dismay, Dark Mirror continued to go downhill fast.

Dark Mirror starts out explaining how anybody with a magical skill, better known as a mage, will be exiled. This came to pass in the late seventeenth century from a group of high raking men who felt the mages, or those using magic, were trying to corrupt England. Magic is then banned and those caught using it will be ostracized. Fast forward to 1803 and here is where we meet Lady Victoria Mansfield. Her mother catches Tori floating above her bed as she sleeps. Tori is now fearful, mainly of her father, because if he finds out she can use magic, he’ll banish her to a place called Lackland Abby that cures young people of their affliction. Tori will then be subjected to ridicule and most likely never to marry a man of any rank. Tori makes a big mistake and shows the world what she can do when she saves her nephew from falling off a cliff. Instead of being applauded, she’s forced to leave her home and family and sent to Lackland Abby. There Tori is treated more like a prisoner than a student.

Soon enough Tori does fit in and finds out there’s a top secret group of students and some Lackland teachers who use their powers for good. Among them is Allarde, the only son of the Duke of Westover and the most eligible male at Lackland. All the female students are gaga over Allarde. Tori finds him more than appealing but keeps her opinions to herself. The group will practice at building up their magic in order to stop Napoleon from invading. One night as Tori and her friends are almost caught by Raiders, she runs into some mirror type force field and pops out in 1940. There she finds out that another type of invasion is about to happen. Tori will go back to 1803 England and bring her magical friends back to Lackland during WWII to stop the Nazis from invading there.

At the moment Tori fell through Merlin’s mirror, as it’s called, and ended up in England during WWII, that’s when I rolled my eyes and went WTF? Up to this point, Dark Mirror was a great historical novel perfect for young readers. I don’t know what M.J. was thinking, including the editor who acquired this book for St. Martin’s in having Tori and her motley magical crew end up in the future. Also, Tori becomes accustomed to the future very quickly. She sees a car and doesn’t even bat an eyelash. Even the family she comes upon doesn’t find her strange, nor does she, and soon they’re all fast friends.
I was so irked by this sudden change in the story that I couldn’t finish. I felt betrayed in some way, actually more like fooled by the turn of events.

Some may not find this odd or annoying by having a story start out as a paranormal historical and then becoming a time travel, but I was. The blurb from Sharon Shinn calls this a rousing adventure with forbidden magic. More like a tame, ridiculously written adventure and a forbidden storyline that was better left to remain hidden in the depths of a person’s mind never to see the light of day.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,901 reviews1,505 followers
January 23, 2012
I hesitate to rate the book because I didn't make it past the first chapter. For what it's worth, here's what ruined the book for me.

I am a fan of Regency-era books and the author seems not to have considered the period at all when setting her story in 1803 (just prior to Regency, really, but close enough for throwing hand grenades). Examples:
- Long-term fashions dictated by a secret cabal of nobles (secret cabals dictated fashion all the time, but never long term—this is how fads came to be so common in noble circles).
- 24 year-old eligible (and beautiful) sisters just now getting married (without any reasons given—reasons that would have been deeply discussed in the time period).
- Two noble girls from different families taught together by the same tutors—um, no, not unless they were sisters.
- But worst of all, a heroine who is named Victoria (not at all a common name 15 years before the eventually famous queen) who shortens the name to Tory—a name shared by a not-generally popular political party at the time that had been around for at least a century.

But period errors aside, the characters of this story are cardboard beyond acceptance. A young nephew obviously exists merely to put himself into a danger that will reveal Tory's shunned powers (I didn't get that far in the book, but I'm sure enough of it that I'll pretend that's what happened—my guess is the nearby cliffs but failing that an upper window or attic of the large house will serve). A handsome crush down from school who will end up scorning her once her powers are publicly revealed (by said nephew—oh the heartache!). A best friend—remember the sharing of tutors—who will not stick up for her, but will eventually provide some key access or piece of information later on in the novel when really needed.

And Tory herself is merely a projection of every virtue to be downtrodden by a cruel world only to triumph eventually because such virtue must, eventually, overcome all the dread obstacles in her path. There's no actual personality there and not much prospect of one developing.

In short, things exist because the author wants them to and not for any logic or reason. There's no depth to the setting or characters, and expecting a coherent story to congeal from the mess is more hope than I could muster.
Profile Image for Kelly.
616 reviews147 followers
April 15, 2011
M.J. Putney, a.k.a. Mary Jo Putney, is a well-known author of romance novels. In Dark Mirror, Putney makes her young adult debut. Dark Mirror is a blend of fantasy and historical romance set in an alternate history in which magic exists and is legal, but is considered gauche, fit only for the lower classes.

In 1803, young Victoria Mansfield learns she has magic and knows she must keep it secret if she is to make a good marriage. The jig is up when, at a crowded fete, she has to use her powers to save her nephew from certain death. Family friends give her the cut direct and her father packs her off to Lackland Abbey, a school where aristocratic young people learn to suppress their magic. She's in for a surprise, though. Not everyone at Lackland believes in forsaking magic, and soon Tory meets a secret society dedicated to honing their powers in the hopes of using them against Napoleon.

At this point I'm going to put a spoiler in my review. It's my opinion that you need to read this spoiler before deciding whether to read the book. I did know about this plot element and was able to adjust to it; I think I'd have been utterly disoriented if I hadn't known. This almost sounds like too much concept for one book, but it mostly works.

Dark Mirror is, overall, a sweet story focused on friendship, finding oneself, and budding romance, set amid two wars. The love story is cute and written at an age-appropriate level. The ending is particularly touching.

There are issues, however. The dialogue is often stilted -- partially because so much of it is expository (between the magic lessons and the explanations to Tory about how things work) and partially because it's just too goody-goody. Haughty Cynthia is a delightful exception. She starts as a "mean girl" and even when she becomes more sympathetic, she's still snarky, which makes her a scene-stealer. There is also at least one continuity issue: Mrs. Rainford initially talks about scrying as if Tory taught her to do it, but later Mrs. Rainford learned the skill elsewhere and begins to teach it to Tory.

I have mixed feelings about Dark Mirror, but I'd certainly give a second book a chance -- especially if it stars Cynthia and Jack as the lead couple.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,891 followers
March 23, 2011
Historical fiction.... magic... and time travel... and a love story! Is there anything this novel doesn't have!?!? Dark Mirror was a historical fiction, inside of a historical fiction!

The thing that I loved about this novel was the descriptions..... talk about being transported back in time, wow, I absolutely felt like I was there, in both instances. Even more interesting was the strangely similar parallels between Tory's own world and the Napoleonic war and the World War II battle she faces in the future. Putney beautifully and accurately depicts both time periods!

The characters while interesting, fell short to the captivating setting. Tory was a wonderful narrator, but it was Jack that really stole the show for me! He was hilarious and layered! I wish we would have gotten to experience more of his story. The romance in the novel was a little unfulfilling.... it seemed abrupt. I mean, I expected it to happen, but I didn't really "see" it happen. Despite that, I still enjoyed the romantic aspect of the novel.

Overall, Dark Mirror was a wonderfully written historical fiction! I am very interested in seeing where this series adventures to next.
Profile Image for snowplum.
161 reviews27 followers
December 8, 2014
I've read a few historical romances by Mary Jo Putney, and I think they're among the most intelligent and sophisticated of the genre. (Specifically, River of Fire and Dancing on the Wind... I think after she finished the Fallen Angels series, her work got significantly less interesting, perhaps [understandably] having exhausted most of her better ideas after 10+ historical romances.) So I think it's great that instead of writing more romance novels that are less unique, she decided to try her hand at something different enough that it could get her more inspired -- namely, YA fiction with history, romance, and magic. But sadly I find myself less than enthusiastic about the result.

I think the core problem is that most/many people who want to read romances or magic stories with characters in corsets and castles don't also want to read WWII histories. I'll confess it's one of the eras I'm least attracted to aesthetically, and I find it hard to enjoy any story that treats the horrors of that time as seriously as they should be treated, while I'm annoyed or outright offended by stories that are set in that time with Nazis as The Ultimate Bad Guys without sufficient respect for their real victims.

Putney is not guilty of this most egregious scribe crime, but I'm just not all that drawn to her major plot: that mages from 1803 caused a spell of good weather in 1940 that facilitated a British evacuation across the English Channel of 340,000 troops from France. Undeniably, this is an exciting and significant episode in history, and how Putney describes the miracle of the benevolent weather, the many small boats that were involved, and the injured soldiers seeing the cliffs of Dover for the first time is all respectful and even moving... but it never clicked into that magical place of rightness for me where I felt like she was telling a story as it wanted to be told all along.

I spent the entire second half of the book in 1940 wishing these characters had just stayed in 1803 and MJP had developed them fully there -- deciding to learn to use their powers despite all of the family and societal pressures not to, and discovering the emotional consequences and rewards of doing so. She had the makings of a perfect, richly detailed and emotionally resonant tale of special, misfit kids (which is beginning to sound like Harry Potter meets The Breakfast Club, now that I think of it...) that would have been more than enough story; but instead, we only get half of that book and then this other WWII stuff happens that I enjoyed a lot less.

I admit that not liking WWII fiction half as much as I enjoy a good Regency is just personal taste, so Dark Mirror may well be worth a read if you don't share my general disinclination to pick up anything set during WWII and you do like YA fantasy and romance... but nonetheless, due to my own taste, it's not one of my strong recommendations. Books 2 and 3 also travel back and forth between 1803 and 1940, and I don't find myself eager to spend more time there. If there must be time travel across 3 books, let it also be across at least 3 times!
Profile Image for Small Review.
610 reviews207 followers
December 15, 2014
I had been anticipating this book all the way back to when it had a different cover, so I was very happy when I was asked if I would like a copy for review. I did enjoy this book and I do recommend it, but I did not love it.

As a character girl, I had to subtract some stars because I just could not connect with the characters. They weren’t bad or annoying, but they never felt alive to me. When I did the WWMCD test (that’s the What Would the Main Character Do? Test) I find these characters did not score high. Unfortunately, these are not characters I will carry with me in my heart for years to come.

Outside of that, the story itself was actually a lot of fun. I love time travel books, and Dark Mirror did things a little different than what I’m used to. Instead of going back in time, Dark Mirror begins in Regency England and then travels forward in time to WWII. Watching the characters react to all of the new (and now old to us) technological advancements made for a fun twist.

The story had a light feel to it that I enjoyed, but it was also appropriately serious. The characters all faced decisions between what is easy and what satisfies duty, honor, and sacrifice. I really liked the patriotism and strong female characters that made up the backbone of the book.

The first half of the book moves along at a good pace, following Tory as she acclimates to her new school. For a while I thought I had been misinformed about the time travel aspects, thinking this was instead a boarding school book. The time travel comes about midway through the book and at that point the pace really picks up.

I like fast paced books, but I thought things moved almost a little too fast. The characters jumped around from one task to another, accomplishing each one with relative ease. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had connected with the characters. As it was, I followed the events happily enough but I never felt invested.

The romance was nicely paced and I think will be received well by both fans and detractors of insta-love. The two characters do have an instant connection, but there is a forbidden love aspect that keeps them at a distance. Their connection is never explained, but maybe an explanation will be explored in the sequel.

Though this book does have a sequel, it works well as a standalone. All of the main events are tied up cleanly, so you need not fear any cliffhangers. There also aren’t a ton of little details to worry about having to remember.

Originally posted at Small Review
Profile Image for Tina.
495 reviews771 followers
April 28, 2011
This book was written by the historical romantic author Mary Jo Putney. This is her first YA book and she writes under the name M.J. Putney. I loved this book. The story focuses on Lady Victoria Mansfield who is found out to be a Mage (possesses magical powers.) She is sent away by her family to a school that will help curb her powers. Here she meets other Mages and they form a club for the greater cause of England. I don't want to give any of the plot away. This book has a bit of everything. Adventure, mystery, and romance. It is the First in a series of Three books.
Profile Image for Erica (storybookend).
347 reviews286 followers
March 16, 2011
Dark Mirror was such a fantastic fresh novel! I loved it, and while it isn’t without its faults, I still found the story fascinating and the characters very likable. I believe that most fans of young adult novels will like this book, if not love. And I can say that I was very pleased with it.

Dark Mirror is the story of Tory who finds at the beginning of the novel that she has magical powers. She is a mage. After a happenstance that forced her to reveal her powers, she is sent to Lackland Abbey to be cured of her magic which is shunned in her aristocratic life. While there, she finds (in a labyrinth under the school) a secret group of these fellow student mages who wish to study and cultivate their magic. Their main reason in doing this is to hopefully aid in the war between Britain and France. A little while later, during a raid where teachers hope to flush out the students who they know are in the labyrinth, Tory stumbles upon a mirror, and she is swept into a different time, and a different war.

This was an incredible tale of magic and time travel with impending danger of war, and a dash of romance. I loved the concept behind the story, and how Putney wove magic into it. Yet it could have been better. I felt that the novel could have been 100 pages longer, drawing out some scenes and explaining things better. Some things happened too quick and the characters taking it right in stride. When Tory first time traveled, she was surprised and scared, but not a lot. She didn’t question what happened, just automatically accepted it had, and that she could stay a few days in the future to help some people there who needed her help. She didn’t seem anxious or unbelieving that she had traveled through time. Magic is very common in her world, so strange occurrences are normal to her, but time travel is a completely different matter. I will say that she is a very strong heroine. She refused to let anyone take her down, or treat her less than she knows she deserves. So I can believe that she would accept time travel pretty well, just not that readily I suppose.

I really enjoyed the magical aspect of the story. People with magical abilities are called mages, and their powers range from flying, to healing, to controlling the weather. And by working together, they’re able to enhance their power and strength, therefore becoming more useful. This proves essential when they’re called upon to help in a war. I love how Putney wove these two elements together. Using historical events and a fantastical magic allure that fit together well. Putney’s historical facts were right and done well and added that perfect feel of danger and adventure.

The romance of the story was handled nicely. It wasn’t a predominant part. It was a side note, but with enough substance to have a feeling of contentment with the way Putney let it develop. Allarde and Tory’s love was a slow, soft budding bloom. It was sweet, yet with some passion. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was a mutual attraction that grew as they became closer together. And when tragedy seemed inevitable, Tory refused to let her heart break, or to let the potential loss of Allarde cut her down. She ached for what could happen, but accepted that things happen, though that didn‘t stop her from trying her hardest to save Allarde.

I think this book would have been better if it had been longer, if Putney had lengthened some scenes, with more explanation, and fleshed out the plot so it was a little more accepting and believable, and maybe developed the characters better. I did like the characters, they became endearing to me, and even at the end, when someone was reunited with their loved ones, I unashamedly admit a few tears came to my eyes. The characters just could have been given more time for us as the reader to know and understand them better. But it was still a good read, and I very much enjoyed reading it, and I have to say I’m excited for the sequel!
Profile Image for Steph Su.
943 reviews452 followers
April 6, 2011
DARK MIRROR is a doozy of a novel. It seems to cover a little dash of every genre—fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, romance—and while it doesn’t fully develop the possibilities that these multiple genres allow, and used quite a few YA tropes to push its nonstop pace along, it was still overall a rollicking good read.

DARK MIRROR focuses on plot over characterization. The book’s synopsis says practically nothing about the plot, which made it an interesting reading experience for me because that practically never happens for me anymore. The pacing kept me engaged even through the less believable moments—which occurred at greater and greater frequency as the story progressed.

Why is that so? I think it might be because this book tried to take on so much. First it introduces us to an alternate-world Regency England where magic is common but considered “dirty blood” among the gentry. The explanations for how the magic worked were practically nonexistent, but it didn’t bother me all that much once I readjusted my mental “targeted reader’s age” to something much younger.

But then, about two-thirds of the way through the book, we basically get introduced to a whole different set of characters, who know nothing about magic, and so in the span of, like, 20 pages Tory manages to explain and teach them magic. Call me picky, but that felt like a poorly rushed narrative decision. And there is not much I want to say about the ending, because by that point I was trying to hold in my laughter at how dramatic and contrived the plot had gotten. Not the kind of reaction a book wants to inspire in its reader.

Tory and her friends are basically solid characters. Tory is a resilient protagonist, not annoying. Other than her, however, the supporting characters were relatively stock characters: you had your mean but troubled roommate; the jolly, though poor, male friend; the plucky little sister; and so on. The thoroughly undeveloped romance that gets thrown into the story kind of randomly felt entirely like someone had said, “This is YA; it needs a romance” and so plunked the moody handsome guy in. And, as most of you know by now, that is not okay by my book.

So DARK MIRROR is not high-quality literature. It employs a few too many clichéd YA elements for me to truly enjoy it. But I think that younger readers who’ve enjoyed Libba Bray’s or Tiffany Trent’s gothic YA historical fantasy series might delight in this exciting and fast-paced story.
Profile Image for Amy.
111 reviews
December 17, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Let me count the ways!

Tory was an amazing protagonist. She’s smart, strong, and yet still vulnerable. In the beginning she was so brainwashed by her society, that she didn’t even consider the idea that magic could be good.
The main idea of high society considering magic as disgraceful was very creative. I loved the short prologue that revealed why magic was decided to be a lower class thing. In most any book concerning magic, it is usually the coveted thing. If people get grumpy about magic, it’s usually because they’re jealous or something, but here, magic was looked down upon. It was considered a complete curse, even though the kid couldn’t help having the different talents.

The time-traveling aspect. I loved that the mirror wasn’t considered something “cool”, it was scary and frustrating, but sadly needed. Time-travel is always fun, and I loved watching the characters have to get used to the clothing styles, the technology, and everything. :)

Cynthia, Elspeth, Nick, Polly, Miss Wheaton, Mrs. Rainford and all the supporting characters were each unique and fascinating. Cynthia was a bit annoying, but you got used to her. Elspeth has this amazing quiet strength, Nick and Polly are so darn brave, and the two women are so loving towards these kids they love.

There is one little-itty-bitty thing I didn’t completely love: Allarde.
Before you freak out on me, let me explain myself.
I think the synopsis thingy sets up their relationship very differently than it truly is. It’s more of a “oh that guy is hot” thing on her side, and then for him, he’s just distant, aside from showing more interest in her than any other girl (when I say “interest”, I mean talking to her like twice). Then later on he reveals his “secret” too her. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say about this except that I feel the last couple sentences of the synopsis set their relationship up like a star-crossed lovers thing, and it isn’t. I like him, I like her, I like them together. But it isn’t some CRAZY romance. It’s just normal.

All in all, it was rather great, and I hope to get the sequel, Dark Passage, soon.

Content Warnings: Mild language, kissing.
Profile Image for Liz.
860 reviews185 followers
March 2, 2011
It seems that some novels have a hard time deciding what genre they fall under. A hybrid of historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, the first few pages of Dark Mirror had me thinking I would fall head over heels for this book. Unfortunately, by the time I finished, I was left feeling that the story had too many elements that didn’t fit with one another.

As I said, this novel is a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy, and while I wasn’t fanatical about the writing at first, I was quick to forgive because of the premise. Yet eventually a third sub-genre came into play, and it felt like this novel was trying so hard to be complex that it wound up being too unfocused. I believe this is the first in a series, and if I’m correct, I’ll be curious to see what aspects of the story Putney pursues most heavily. I will say that I really liked the way the magic was written--I loved how the characters could connect and combine their powers.

Dark Mirror also fell short for me in terms of characters. Tory always seemed to be optimistic and her personality was a little sugary sweet. She would say things like, “A cup of tea will fix everything!” or “I don’t like my roommate, but I’m going to be nice so I can be the better person!” I don’t dislike these traits, but they always strike me as being very characteristic of younger and more immature characters (maybe that is an unfair assessment, but that is a post for another day). However, when put in a romantic situation, she would say things like, “I can’t imagine life without him!” This also a character trait that I don’t mind, but it felt excessively mature compared to her in other contexts.

My hope is that as the series go on, Tory will mature more and we’ll see why Putney is trying to tie so many different elements together. I’d love to see more continuity with characters and plotlines. I think this novel will appeal to lovers of fantasy and historical fiction, so if you like those genres give this book a chance.
Profile Image for Krystal.
798 reviews25 followers
January 22, 2011
A friend received an ARC at ALA midwinter and sent this book my way. I am glad that she did. Lady Victoria Mansfield is exiled from her family when it is discovered she is a mage. At Lackland, the school nobles send their mageling children for the "cure," Tory learns that her magic just might not be a curse but a tool given to her to help save Britain for invading forces, both in her time and beyond.

Tory is spunky and likable; she both loathes the fact that she has magic, since it makes her an outcast in society, and is curious about the powers she is discovering. She is definitely a character you root for through out the book. The book also has strong supporting characters that allow a reader to learn more about Tory and add to her adventures. The required love story is sweet but predictable. I was more interested in the ideas of magic the book was building on throughout the story.

One jarring note is the time travel element. When it first happens, I was bewildered by the author's decision to include it. It had seemed to me she had a strong story and conflicts already, there was no need to add time traveling into the mix but it turned out that was where her story was always going. In that case, I would have wanted her to get to it faster. The first time travel moment seemed rushed and odd to me; it was just an awkward transition I feel.

That said, I recommend this read for fantasy and historical fiction fans, the book merges both successfully.
Profile Image for Nan.
842 reviews74 followers
January 21, 2013
As the book opened, I wasn't certain that I'd enjoy it. As an adult reader of YA books, I tend to like my books to have a certain level of sophistication in writing. Roughly, I tend to like books aimed at older teens. This book was clearly set for younger audience than I'm used to.

However, once the plot got moving, I got sucked into the story. It's a fairly straightforward plot--a young noblewoman is identified as a magic user. Magework is socially unacceptable, so her father sends her away to a very expensive school that can teach her to control and eventually bind away her magic. However, upon arrival, Tory learns that not everyone agrees with the mission of the school and begins to question why magework is so unacceptable.

Add in a cranky roommate, a love interest at the neighboring boy's school, and some time travel, and you've got this book.

There's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

I do wish that Putney had written for a slightly older audience, though. There are hints throughout the book at the way in which social control is used to condemn magic, and there are hints of deeper relationships at work. I would have liked to see those hints developed further. As it stands, this is an enjoyable three star book for me. I'd rather have given it four, but I'm just a little too old.
Profile Image for Merb.
489 reviews34 followers
June 5, 2017
I found the first half of this book enjoyable. I felt it set up the story well and I was really anticipating what was to come. I liked the idea of how people viewed magic, and I felt that Lackland Abbey created a mysterious and eerie atmosphere that was exciting. But it fell flat for me during the second half.
This book had a lot of potential since the plot and how the society acknowledged magic could have created an interesting and complex story, but personally I found it didn't live up to this potential. I found the story went in a direction which to me just felt really simple, and focused on a rather boring form of magic.
I felt the romance was flat as well. I had very little interest in the romance as it sometimes felt like it was being forgotten and randomly added in around the plot.
I did like the characters, although most of the characters were very similar and sort of blended together. I would have enjoyed if there was more variety in personality, but that may just be a personal thing.
Although I didn't think this was a terrible book at all. I still enjoyed it in most parts, but overall I guess it just wasn't my thing. I recommend it for people who enjoy books with magic and historical fiction.
Profile Image for Jenn.
4,000 reviews40 followers
May 22, 2018
Eh. I didn't enjoy this one. I found the writing to be incredibly simplistic. This is YA, but it felt like it was written on a 10yo level. The story just really wasn't plausible to me either. I mean, she SAVED the life of her nephew and NO one can see that that's a good thing besides the kid's parents? Really? Meh.
Profile Image for MV Mariani.
30 reviews13 followers
September 23, 2014

Minus: the writing.

So, if we don't include the prologue, the book begins with our main character dreaming of flying and then waking up floating; her mother standing by her doorway watching everything. Let's just ignore, for a second, how extremely overused that scene is (Hello, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch!). This is how it's depicted:

She shrieked and crashed down on the bed, her breath whooshing out as she flopped onto her stomach. Shaken and afraid, she pushed herself up with her arms. She couldn't really have been flying! “What … what happened?”

“You were flying.” Her mother closed the door, her white-knuckled hand locked around the knob. “Don’t ever do that again!” she said, voice shaking. “You know how society feels about mages. How … how your father feels about them.”

“I can’t be a mage!” Tory gasped, shocked by the impossibility of her mother’s words. “I’m a Mansfield. We’re not magical!”

This is where the writer began to lose me (and I'm not even counting the prologue, which felt a little over the top and rough on the edges), but even so, I kept on reading, forcing myself to have hope (I mean, a rough start can happen to everyone, right?):

Tory refused to believe her mother could be a mage. Lady Fairmount was considered the greatest lady in the county, an example to all wellborn young ladies.

And yet … guilt was written as plain as day on the countess’s lovely face. When the countess refused to reply, Tory’s world began to crack beneath her.

“Do you have magical ability?” she said, shocked and desperately unwilling to believe such a thing. Yet looking back … “You always knew what we were doing. Geoff and Sarah and I thought you had eyes in the back of your head.”

“There were rumors,” her mother whispered, tears shining in her eyes. “About my Russian grandmother, Viktoria Ivanova. The one you’re named for. She died when I was very small, so I didn’t really know her, but … it’s possible she brought mage blood into the family.”

Tory’s namesake had poisoned the blue-blooded Mansfield family with magic? And Tory might suffer for that? It wasn’t fair!

and she lost me.

For God's sake! What is this? A cheap teenage drama? I swear, the only thing most annoying than this rushed and feeble writing is the voice the narrator chose to adopt- which is clearly the voice of an immature, self-centred, modern girl.

Mostly, we are told what the other characters are feeling in a way that made the sentiments fall flat, and, foremost, to me, the whole situation lacked realism.

And I know. Realism? How can you ask for realism when we are talking about magic? I do realize it may sound ironic, but it's actually not.

When writing about matters that stand outside any reality of our world, you have to find the way to make them feel authentic or the reader may never connect with your characters, or the story.

Of course, the writer sabotaged herself on that by rushing through everything.

What was the need of scrambling the discovery of her own magic abilities and the talk with her mother like that? There's no suspense, no mystery, no space whatsoever for the writer to assert her own main character's feelings and personality. And so, without being properly introduced to anything, not even the world we have stumbled upon, we are left disconnected and exactly where we are: outside the book, reading it.

Leaving that aside, I can't really be expected to read a whole novel where the first thing the main character thinks about, when learning she is "magical", is of how unfair everything is for her.
Profile Image for Patrícia.
966 reviews97 followers
July 16, 2017
"What did you think?", asks Goodreads at the top of the review box. "I really can't say", I answer. I have noticed a distinct lack of interest in reading (which scares me a bit... after all, I am a sort-of compulsive reader), nothing seems to interest me much and I only manage a few chapters (sometimes pages) before I get bored. This weird "funk" may very well be the reason why I thought this book... average. I distantly liked the story, but I didn't think it was anything special.

Lady Victoria Mansfield, 16, is the daughter of an earl. She kind of knows how her life will play out: she will be presented to society, find an eligible husband and marry. But all her hopes and dreams are shattered when she learns she can do magic! Yes, magic is recognized in England and it's all well and good that commoners use it, but nobles of pure blood shouldn't be tainted by such... vulgar things as magic. So her parents send her to Lackland, an eerie school for aristocrats who were unfortunate enough to be "afflicted" with magic. At first, Victoria (or Tory) just wants to be "cured" but as she gets in touch with her magical powers she realizes she wants to learn more about them... not suppress them.

This book started rather weirdly: at the end of the 18the century magic was widely used by everyone... but then a noble used said magic to seduce thee wife of another noble or cheat at cards or whatever and everything went downhill. A group of nobles decided (in a shadowy cafe, no less) that they would "ban" magic from polite society. And that completely ridiculous reason is why, a few years later our heroine is shunned by all when they learn she is a mage.

Ridiculous prologue aside, I really liked the general story. A group of Lackland students and some rebel teachers decide to learn magic instead of suppressing it in order to be useful in case Napoleon invades. I liked learning about the different powers (weather mages and healers and scryers and "general mages") and how they all could share energy (because magic here is energy). I thought the discovery of the mirror was a bit "random" but also liked when the Irregulars travelled in time and used the skills they had been training to defend against Napoleon to protect the English in WWII.

The part where they all sat around and controlled the storm was a bit boring, but the part with the boat has action and suspense enough to compensate.

Most characters were very likable although not particularly well-developed: Tory was cute and determined, Elspeth was awesome and Cynthia was great, probably my favorite and the one that had more character development. Jack was funny and likable as well. The only one I didn't really like was Allard. The author was probably going for dark and mysterious, but he was always... not there and therefore what little I read of him I didn't like. Too much of a stereotype.

Another thing I didn't like: the romance. I didn't get the whole Tory and Allard thing, first they barely spoke and next they were in love? Not realistic. I guess I expected more from a veteran historical romance writer like Putney. The romance in this book seemed hollow and I really didn't see the chemistry between the two characters.

Still, overall this book was a quick, entertaining read with likable characters and some points in the story were really compelling. If you like historical fantasy in the vein of "A Great and Terrible Beauty" you'll like this book, although it's not as richly descriptive and intricate in terms of plot.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kate McMurry.
Author 1 book79 followers
July 25, 2012
Exciting start to YA historical, time-travel adventure series

Lady Victoria Mansfield is the youngest daughter of an earl. Hers should have been a life with every social privilege and free of care, but she has a shameful secret—she can fly! In her world, the aristocracy considers magical ability to be a taint in the blood that is a very low-class attribute, on a par with engaging in “trade” or even madness.

Unfortunately, a life-and-death situation arises that leaves Tory no choice but to reveal her despised magical ability in order to save a life. Her implacable father believes even that is not an acceptable excuse for humiliating the family. He immediately ships her away to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for magically gifted young aristocrats. Only if Tory cooperates and learns how to suppress her magical ability will she ever be allowed to return home.

I was delighted to learn that Mary Jo Putney has ventured into YA fiction. I have been a huge fan of her adult romance novels for over 20 years, in particular her paranormal historical romance. No one could be better suited to writing a novel like this for teens.

MJP also excels in her adult novels in creating families of affiliation, groups of friends who will do anything for each other and are closer emotionally than most blood relations. She brings this skill amply to bear in this novel, providing for the heroine, Tory, a fascinating group of friends, and a delightful romantic interest.

Tory herself is an admirable heroine, full of courage, determination and immense compassion. It is her virtues which lead to all her trouble, which is my favorite way for conflict to be created in a novel as I’m not personally particularly fond of anti-hero stories. On the other hand, Tory is not a boringly perfect person. She has the same fears and concerns that all humans are prey to. In addition, her characterization is very accurate for a teenager of her historical era of the Regency Period in England, in the early 1800’s during the Napoleonic Wars.

This book is G-Rated, but not immature in its approach. It is suitable for all ages. Adult fans of Ms. Putney who read both YA and adult romance novels will be particularly pleased with this book.

There are currently two other books in print within this series, Book 2 is Dark Passage, and Book 3 is Dark Destiny. Both are equally wonderful.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5 stars
Subcharacters: 5 stars
Writing: 5 stars
Paranormal Action/Adventure Plot: 5 stars
Romantic Plot: 5 stars
Fantasy World-Building: 5 stars
Historical World-Building: 5 stars
Overall: 5 stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.
Profile Image for  ♥ Rebecca ♥.
1,349 reviews371 followers
September 1, 2014
This review can also be found on my blog: A Match Made in Heaven

I feel this deserves a 3.5/5 but I will go with 4 so not to give the impression I didnt enjoy it with a 3.

I really enjoyed the writing in this, and the pace was so fast which I think had something to do with why I finished it so quickly. Every chapter starts right in the action and there is no time wasted. The story was very unique and like nothing I had read before, although rather short. And I really enjoyed the female lead, Tory. In a lot of YA romance today the female leads tend to be too ordinary, probably to encourage the readers, "This could happen to you too." But its rather unrealistic that a powerful, handsome prince or vampire will fall in love with an unremarkable girl. There was this awesome moment where Tory started to realize that the tall, dark, and handsome stranger was giving her too much attention, and instead of blushing and getting all flustered, she said, "Is it my imagination, or do you often watch me in a way that is not casual?" Haha, I love her for that! She is so gutsy.

The main downside to this book is the romance and the romantic interest, Allarde. He catches her eye almost immediately and we know that that is the setup to making him the romantic interest of the book. But then it takes several chapters before they meet, and then they have very few interactions. Their relationship doesnt start to develop until over half way through the book. But that isnt a bad thing if you're not reading it for the romance. It focuses mostly on Tory's adventure for the first half, and thats ok. Once the romance does start, it is sweet, but underdeveloped and rushed. As is Allarde. I dont feel like we really know him as a character, only as an extension of Tory. It is unfortunate that I have found so few YA romance as fully and realistically developed as in The Iron King. But, Allarde has potential and I look forward to discovering his character more in Dark Passage.
Profile Image for Jan.
1,020 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2011
I'll confess up front that I was a bit worried that this new YA novel from romance writer M. J. Putney would be full of bodice ripping, rippling pecs and other romance novel tropes. But I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a satisfying romance/fantasy that kept the pages turning.

The novel toggles back and forth in time between the early 1800's and the beginning of WWII. It is set in the town of Lackland, home of a boarding school for wayward sons and daughters of the British aristocracy. These students are not guilty of moral turpitude, as you might expect. Instead, they are guilty of having the ability to practice magic, which has been outlawed by the aristocracy. Lady Victoria Mansfield is one of those students. Her only hope of returning to society rests upon whether the school can successfully teach her to completely repress her powers forever. But Tory finds that some of the teachers who are expected to help her accomplish this goal are, in fact, members of a secret magic society that meets in the tunnels under the school to practice their craft. Their hope is to use their magic to protect England from an invasion by Napoleon. Tory joins the group and discovers a silver mirror that whisks her to 1940, at the beginning of WWII. There she finds that her magic is also needed, as the Allies have been forced to retreat to the beaches of Dunkirk, France and the success of an evacuation plan, Operation Dynamo, depends on the weather. Tory enlists her friends to help and discovers a passionate love for a fellow student as they struggle together to use their magic to save Britain.

Except for a few plot holes here and there, this novel was satisfyingly constructed. The romance and magic are nicely balanced, without one overpowering the other. The romance is limited to passionate embraces, which makes it appropriate for younger teen readers. The characters and plot are fairly stock but comfortably recognizable, rather like a fast food meal at McDonalds. All in all, this is a solid debut YA novel for Putney and it should have lots of appeal for teen fans of both romances and fantasy.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,958 reviews1,478 followers
November 13, 2013
I liked this book much more than I thought. At first it was difficult to read the snobbish attitudes towards those with magic and the beliefs about women but much of the story's action takes place outside of that world. I really admired Tory. At first I couldn't relate to her desire to return home to a cruel and stifling society that didn't accept her but I began to think differently once I realized what a difficult decision she had to make. Once she begins to study with the Irregulars she grows and learns a lot, and not just magic. Cynthia is a stereotypical snobby rich girl on the surface but she has surprising hidden depths. I really liked Elspeth who accepts who she is and embraces her magic. Allarde is a swoony sort of hero that I think teenage girls will love. The plot is engaging but starts and stops too often. I was expecting major action but instead there's lots of minor action with the major action happening in the last few chapters. Then I couldn't put the book down though I had the feeling I had read that part before... This book is a cute way to introduce teens to the Regency world and teach English history. Some of the morals are a bit heavy handed so this novel is not for every adult reader. I would recommend it mainly to 12-14 year old girls who have graduated from Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series.
Profile Image for Eden.
1,720 reviews
May 24, 2022
2022 bk 150 M. J. Putney is indeed Mary Jo Putney of Regency Romance fame. Before the Lost Lords and other titles, she wrote an adult and a YA paranormal regency series. This is the first of the YA stories. Magic exists in England, but aristocrats jealous of the powers in their own class ostracized and banned working magicians. If magic was found in children, then they were sent to an academy to be corrected. Well - readers of magical fantasy know well how that turns out. The heroine of this series finds a like minded group of teens sworn to help defend England against Napoleon in their own time period, and after the discovery of a time portal mirror, to help defend England during the beginning years of WWII. A wonderfully written, well plotted out stories. The adult can find themselves in the decisions made by the teens in this story.
Profile Image for Ruby.
299 reviews57 followers
March 22, 2011
This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.

When I found out that Mary Jo Putney was joining the ever-growing list of authors writing for the YA adult market, I practically did a song and dance. You see, Thunder and Ashes just about tops my list of favorite romances. I haven't read much Mary Jo lately, but I was one-hundred percent behind her getting into the Teen action. Um...that came out wrong. I meant--aw, forget it.
Dark Mirror begins with a group of socially influential men deciding that, while they find magic useful, they'd rather it be the province of the lower classes. The men talk, share bad experiences, and scheme to make all outcasts high-born individuals with magical abilities. I'll be frank with you. I hated this scene. It smacked of exposition. How often do men get together and plan the social ruin of an entire population of people? It reminded me of a thousand bad Regencies I've read over the years, and it was not a good note on which to start the novel. I'd have much rather read a more generalize history of how magic became socially unacceptable than have a group of skeevy old men sit around a table and spoon-feed me the exact details.
The story then shifts to about two hundred years later. The heroine, Tory, has manifested her magical powers. They are a great shock to her, and she resolves to hide them so deeply that no one will ever know she has them. When hiding them doesn't work, Tory is rejected by family and friends alike, and sent to Lackland Academy, where society's elite send their children to be "cured" of magic.
As a character, Tory was all over the place. Initially she wants only to cured and to return to her old life. But even while she's thinking that, she joins a secret society of students who are embracing their magical talents in the hopes of defending England against Napoleon's invasion. But before Tory even has a chance to address this dichotomy, she's whisked through a magical mirror that sends her forward through time. She ends up in WWII England, where her country is facing a different invasion--the Nazis. This element of the story totally confused me. I didn't really see why Tory and Co. had to travel to the future to learn that magic could be valuable as a tool of defense in a time of war. As I've already mentioned, Tory's England is also on the cusp of war. The time travel aspect felt like a ploy to try to get the characters into a more modern frame of thinking while ensuring that they still retained some Regency-era formality.
I also didn't connect to any of the characters in the book. For one thing, there were far, far too many. Some of them were interchangeable. Jack and Nick, come to mind the most easily. Tory was a little too good to be true. She's sweet, thoughtful, giving, but stands up for herself and others. As for Allarde, I don't even particularly want to read his backstory, because he didn't do much for me. Which is a shame, as I'm a sucker for a marquis. Yum. And I totally rolled my eyes whenever he and Tory did non-verbal eye communication. Mac and Barrons did it soooo much better.
Before I end this review, I have to talk about the time travel aspect of this book. I'm not a fan of time travel books. They don't tend to work for me. This time, though I was intrigued by the twist--Tory travels into the future and not the past. I wanted to see how that would work out. Only it didn't. Tory and Co. adjusted far too easily to modern life. After very little time they're accustomed to electricity, plumbing, the wireless and automobiles. The girls are wearing knee-high skirts and never speak of embarrassment. Huh, what? They come from a time when it was scandalous to let a man see your ankle. I think that, if I were transported one hundred and thirty odd years into the future, I'd be pretty freaked out. It would be more than a few days for me to adjust to technology I can't even fathom right now.
I started this book with high expectations, and I'm sorry to say that it didn't live up to them. I will be honest enough to say that I saw enough of Small Review's review to know that she didn't love it, either. I promptly averted my eyes, I promise, but I want you to know that knowing that probably had some influence on my reading. Generally, I don't like to look at other people's reviews until after I write my own, for this very reason.
Teen Regencies aren't exactly thick on the ground. If you like that sort of thing, please go check out Melissa Doyle's Bewitching Season. I adored it. I wasn't crazy about the sequel, but I'm looking forward to book three in the series, Magic in Season. Follow the link to read the description. No book cover yet, here's hoping!
Profile Image for Alexandra Bayer.
Author 2 books16 followers
August 9, 2016
Lady Victoria Mansfield has been prepared her entire life to live in luxury, and to make a match with a man of equal prestige. Everything is flipped upside down, however, when it is discovered that Tory has magic. Magic is forbidden in Tory's era, so she is sent to Lackland Abbey to be reformed. At first, it is Tory's greatest desire to learn to control and hide away her power so that she can be sent home, even if it may take years. But once she discovers an underground resistance of teachers and students alike who work to strengthen their magic in order to defend England, Tory knows it's only right to join them - especially when the handsome Marquis of Allarde is also there. Allarde is hiding a secret, though, that prevents him from opening up to anyone, including Tory. Thoughts of romance are put on hold, however, when Tory stumbles upon a mirror that takes her to the future, where a different war is being fought. Can Tory and the rest of the resistance truly keep England safe, especially when the danger is in two different time periods?

I found that it took me a while before I could actually become immersed in this story. I kept trying to read it, but I could only manage a few pages before putting it down again. I don't know if this is just because I didn't exert enough willpower over myself to keep going, or because I don't generally like stories based in the past, or if the beginning really wasn't very interesting, but luckily it did get better. After Tory accidentally gave away that she had magic and was sent to Lackland Abbey, I was able to read it more easily. Perhaps this is because of the setting, since I've found lately that the more interesting or ideal or troublesome the setting is, the more I want to keep reading. After some more characters were introduced and Tory stumbled upon the resistance, I was finally able to truly enjoy the rest of the story. It is a good story, though unfortunately it took me a while to discover this, especially considering the short length of the novel.

When Tory was sent through the mirror, she was sent from her own time in the early 1800s to the beginning of World War II. This is the part I found perhaps the most interesting, because of Tory's own perspective. Other books I've read that have time travel, including So Close to You by Rachel Carter, in which the main character also travels to WWII, begin somewhere in the future, traveling backwards into the past. Tory's input was particularly entertaining because she wasn't wondering over how old everything looked, and how little technology there was; rather, she wondered over all the new inventions, such as paved roads and electricity. In the occasional books I read where the characters travel to the future, it is an imagined future. I liked that both time periods Tory was in truly happened, which helped to ground this magical story in facts.

One thing that I did find somewhat unrealistic was the amount of magical knowledge Tory supposedly had by the time she travelled forward in time. She had just begun taking magical lessons herself, and although she'd had power her whole life, she never knew until soon before she was sent to Lackland Abbey. Then, when she travelled to the 1940s, the family she found begged her for magical lessons and she agreed. She taught them enough for them to be able to do magic also. This bothered me a bit because it seemed as though Tory's magical knowledge came out of nowhere, and then the family's ability to do magic came so easily, which somewhat conflicted with parts later in the story when everyone was complaining about how difficult magic was.

Overall I'd still say it was a good book. I thought that the ending was satisfactory, so I was surprised to see that it is a series. I suppose just about anything can become a series, though. I don't know if I'll read the next book, but I did enjoy this one by the end. I thought that there were some good historical details, and the idea of viewing magic as common because of jealousy was original, at least from all that I've read. I'd rate this book three stars. Readers who enjoy novels based in the past, forbidden magic, and complicated romances should read this story.
Profile Image for Lexie.
2,067 reviews298 followers
January 1, 2016
As a teenager I often read M.J. Putney's (or Mary Jo Putney) historical romances. She was one of my favorites because she had female characters I felt I could relate to. Their situations and reactions felt real to me. When I saw she had a young adult historical paranormal romance coming out...I was overjoyed! Combining everything in one place that I love sounded like a great idea! Unfortunately while reading DARK MIRROR I remembered the two things I really didn't like about Putney's writing--her exposition heavy conversations and insta-connection that turns into insta-love without too much development on either side.

The book is set in two different eras--there's 1803, at Lackland Abbey where Tory is sent after saving her nephew's life with magic and 1940, at Lackland Village where Tory tumbles into after running for her life one night. Of the two I enjoyed 1803 better, because it's a time period I like better, but I thought it was clever of Putney to bridge the two eras with a common purpose--Protect England at all costs.

Tory's struggles are believable; she's a good person, but she was raised to believe that everything she is, is wrong. Tainted and corrupted. The reasoning behind the aristocracy's disdain is detailed in the prologue and I have to say it's amazing what a bunch of snobs can accomplish in a relatively short amount of time. It broke my heart when everyone Tory loved and cherished, save for her older brother and his wife, turned their backs on her as if she suddenly grew two heads. It later angered me that both her mother and sister seemingly aren't as un-magical as they proclaim to be yet treat Tory as a pariah just the same because they worry about THEIR lives. The injustice of it all had my fists clenching in frustration.

Tory's arrival at Lackland Abbey is when then narrative begins to fall apart somewhat. Tory is the 'new girl' with very little idea about how things go on at the Abbey or for magically inclined folks in general, so several characters take it upon themselves to answer every single question she (or the reader) has in explicit detail. Very little it left to the reader to deduce themselves or explore. Same can be said for when Tory finds herself in 1940--several characters again take it upon themselves to answer all (to a point, history can't be completely disrupted) her questions.

There is also the matter of her romantic interest in Allarde. This is going to be a several books long series, so I didn't see a need to solidify their relationship so quickly. It's literally one moment he is denying, the next he is 'just one kiss' and suddenly its 'I love you so much!'. I'm not certain of how much time passed between their first meeting and the declaration of love, but it felt entirely too rushed. I didn't feel, or read, the depths of emotion the both of them apparently developed.

Her friendship developments made much more sense and were a joy to read. From her camaraderie with Eslpeth, her 'normal' friendship with Nell and the combative...well not friendship exactly with Cynthia they were far more interesting. I found Jack Rainford to be a lively character as well and I certainly hope we see much more of him in the next book, DARK PASSAGE, due out in the fall.

In the end this was an enjoyable read, but Putney crammed too much relationship development into the last third of the book for it to be believable. Hopefully in the next one there's a step back and everyone takes some time to examine all the details.
Profile Image for Hafsah Faizal.
Author 12 books7,393 followers
March 18, 2011
Originally posted on IceyBooks

I expected great things from MJ Putney's YA debut - magic, history, and of course, action. It provided me with the first, the second, but not enough of the third.

I was mostly drawn to Dark Mirror because of its cover and the fact that its both historical fiction and a debut. I read mixed reviews, many that mentioned loads of action. I felt pretty disappointed by the lack of it.

Tory, or Lady Victoria Mansfield, is the youngest daughter in a wealthy, aristocratic family. Decades ago, magic was declared lowly, and looked down upon by the high folk. So when Tory discovers that "filthy" magic flows in her blood, she knows she must keep it a secret - or lose everything she has.

A near-tragic event suddenly befalls Tory, and she has to decide - save one life, or keep her magic a secret. Her decision ends up with her family and friends disowning her, and the life she knew, being yanked away from her.

Tory is sent to Lackland Abbey, where they will help her learn magical control and lock away her powers forever. Tory wants just that, so she can return to her home and try to restore her old life. But everything changes when she stumbles upon a group of rebels who actually embrace their magical abilities.

Soon, Tory finds herself in the middle of a storm. Its up to her to decide, once again, whether to hide her magic, or embrace it for the sake of her country.

The storyline is as unique and intriguing as it can get. The story itself, however, was dragging in some areas, yet left out details in areas where I needed description the most. I felt that Tory asked too many questions, and that her answers were given too soon, leaving her no need to find things out on her own.

I guess my main issue with Dark Mirror was the writing style. To me, the writing wasn't developed as much, and even in areas where the reader can obviously guess what's happening, there's an explanation or dialogue. Its pretty difficult to explain, but that's the best way for me to put it!

After much debate, I've decided to give Dark Mirror 3 stars. I expected too much out of it, and the beginning promised my expectations to ring through, but as I continued, I began to get more and more disappointed. However, like I said above, the plot is very unique, which is why I picked up the book in the first place!

-Would I recommend this to anyone? Probably ages 12 and up
-Is there a second book? Yes
-Will I be looking forward to book two? Not as much as I'd like.

I love the cover, its another reason why I was drawn to the book. After reading the book, I've noticed that almost every part of it represents the story, from the mirror, to the girl's clothes on both sides!
Profile Image for Elena.
820 reviews86 followers
June 24, 2011
This book had a great premise, but poor execution. The writing quality in this book is only so-so, but when I first started reading, I could let it go because I really love fantasy set during this time period, and I was intrigued by the set-up. Our main character, Tory, is sent to a school for upper class mages where they attempt to basically stamp the magic out of the students. Tory discovers that some students secretly train to enhance their magical ability, and joins a sort of magic user underground at the school. All this is happening against the backdrop of a possible invasion of Britain by Napolean, and the rebel mages are preparing for the possibility of using their magic to defend Britain from the French. I was enjoying the read: boarding school hijinks, different factions of mages (those determined to suppress their abilities versus those who wanted to develop their magic), the looming threat of invasion, evil teachers and subversive teachers, secret tunnels, underground magic use, etc. It was all good.

Then, suddenly, about halfway through the book, Tory is magically whisked into the 1940s, where Britain is threatened by Nazi Germany. And then the rest of the plot more or less centers on that war and the people Tory meets in the 1940s who need magical help. Tory's personal conflict was totally derailed, and I felt that she no longer even had a real stake in the outcome of the conflict, and even the method in which she and her fellow mages helped out served to distance her from the action. And most of the aspects of the book I had so enjoyed in the first half disappeared.

Furthermore, the romance was of the type I am growing to hate more and more in YA fiction: the Pull of Destiny. The typical Pull of Destiny romance goes like this: Girl sees boy across a crowded room, their eyes meet, sparks fly, boy is rude and/or ignores girl, girl is hurt and confused but cannot deny the ever-growing attraction, it is eventually revealed that boy was only mean because he didn't want to hurt girl, but now that the Big Secret has been revealed, they can be together. At no point do the boy and girl actually get to know each other, or only after the end of this progression, once they're a couple. This book essentially follows that pattern. It's not as bad as some offenders, but bad enough to annoy me. And at least Allarde, the boy in question here, wasn't outright rude, and Tory wasn't crying herself to sleep over his treatment of her, or anything like that. It could have been worse.

Overall, if you're into time travel, this book might be worth the read, but don't read it based on the cover copy, because it doesn't really reflect the nature of the book.
Profile Image for Sarah BT.
632 reviews37 followers
March 9, 2011
This book was interesting. There were things I liked and things I didn't like, which made reading it a bit annoying because I kept going back and forth on how I felt about it.

I liked that the summary on the back really only covers the first few chapters, but at the same time this bugged me a bit. We're thrown right into the story without much world building or character development and in just a few chapters Tory has discovered her magic powers, revealed them and is being shipped off to school. What I did like about this is that it leaves a lot for the readers to discover without knowing too much of the story. Because of this I sort of hesitate to talk about further plot points because I don't want to ruin the surprises.

Since the cover kind of hints at this, I will mention that I was very pleased that there was a time travel element to the story. I'm a sucker for time travel and I always enjoy a good time travel story. The book was a bit of a slow start for me, but once Tory got to Lackland and things started to pick up, I started to like it more. I really started to like it more when the time travel is thrown in. At first I wasn't sure how the author would tie everything together, but she worked it all out and it made me like the book more.

The biggest thing that had me frustrated about this book was that I felt it was lacking a lot in character development. Hopefully this changes as the series goes on. I never really knew Tory and found her a bit hard to relate to. We don't get a lot of background story for her and she just felt sort of flat. I would have liked all the characters to be fleshed out more-I never really felt like we got to really know any of them. I also got a bit frustrated about how accepting everyone was of everything. It was very convenient and everyone trusted everyone. Even if someone got upset or made a mistake, they were quick to apologize. Also, when Tory does travel through time, the family she meets are all very quick to accept her story and accept magical powers-pretty much with no questions asked. It felt a bit cheesy and Mary Sunshine at times.

I did like reading it though and I'm interested to see what adventures Tory and her friends come across next. There's a bit of a romance that's beginning in this book, so I hope that continues to develop as the series progresses. The book blends fantasy, history, romance and time travel, so readers who like books with a nice mix of genres should pick this one up.

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