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The Water Mirror

(Merle-Zyklus #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  4,951 ratings  ·  350 reviews
In Venice, magic is not unusual. Merle is apprenticed to a magic mirror maker, and Serafin -- a boy who was once a master thief -- works for a weaver of magic cloth. Merle and Serafin are used to the mermaids who live in the canals of the city -- beautiful creatures with hideous mouths that split their faces from ear to ear -- and to the guards who patrol the streets on li ...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published June 1st 2001)
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Anexandra Around 1890, but it takes place in an alternate universe where egypt has conquered the whole world with the help of magic.

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  4,951 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Start your review of The Water Mirror (Dark Reflections, #1)
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Flowing Queen/The Dark Reflections was a magical and captivating book. I fell in love with this alternate Venice, where winged Stone Lions rule the air, where beautiful mermaids with sharp teeth come to die and where there the mysterious Flowing Queen protects the City from Egyptian invaders.

I've read this book before back in my teens (gosh I've gotten old - the fact alone that I can say things like "back in my teens" frightens me). And I loved it just as much as I did back then. Kai Meyer i
The Captain
Aug 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: walk-the-plank
Ahoy there me mateys! This was an young adult fantasy audiobook that I picked up because it takes place in a magical Venice, the author is German, and it has a wonderful cover:

I loved the setting of the book. The story takes place in an alternate magical Venice. The world is ruled by the Egyptian Pharaoh who controls mummies and flying ships. The exception is Venice, a city whose waters are protected by the Flowing Queen. Mermaids and living stone lions are only some of the creatures that call t
Note: This is the original German edition of the first instalment of the Dark Reflections trilogy. It is also available in English. I especially love the bind-up’s cover:
Dark Reflections The Water Mirror; The Stone Light; The Glass Word by Kai Meyer
Isn't it beautiful? You should totally read it. I know you want to. And no, I'm not getting paid to advertise this book ;).

I just finished re-reading this old childhood favourite and it was a pleasure to revisit the world. I’m glad to be able to say that I still enjoy is as much as back then.

The world Kai Meyer has created with
Shay Dawn
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, pg, fantasy, children
The prose is decent. The plot isn't. ...more
I read to page 36 and skimmed the rest. Here is the bit that made me stop reading: "Ever since the National Geographic Society expedition under the famed Professor Charles Burbridge in 1833 had proven Hell to be a real place in the interior of the earth, there had been several meetings between the ambassadors of Satan and representatives of humanity. However, no one knew any of the details, and that was probably just as well."

No, just no. I don't want that in my fantasy reading. I'm a Christian
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm kind of torn about this book. It really has some fantastic ideas, and the imagery is fantastic. But the writing style (one that didn't bother me originally) has slowly become increasingly annoying to me.

Before I go into more detail about the cons, I'd like to say what I did like about the book first. It was an intriguing idea of an alternate universe Venice where magic exists and Egypt is to them as Rome was to our universe hundreds of years ago. There was a fantastic explanation for all of
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
I'm still not really sure how I feel about this book, even though I read it several years ago. I picked it up because it was a recent translation from a German book, and then discovered that it was set in a city based on Venice. Of course. I'm not really sure why the Germans are obsessed with Italy (Cornelia Funke, for example), maybe for the same reason I wanted to read about Germany: it's different. Anyway. This was a very inventive fantasy, lots of fun and interesting twists leading up to . . ...more
Jun 21, 2008 rated it liked it
It was nice to get lost in Meyers world for awhile, a great escape. I can't imagine that anyone would be satisfied by the ending, not because it's unresolved, but because the writing leading up to it is inconclusive and abrupt. The fantasy-esque particulars, the adolescent protagonists, and the simplistic writing style subjugate the novel to the 'young adult' realm. But I think Meyer has some interesting things to say and very compelling well as some chilling and creepy plot strategi ...more
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

First off, I read this in 2006, and you all know I’m an old dinosaur, so, we’ll see how this goes.

I do know for sure that I remembered more of this than you would think because it was just that unique and creative. I remember really loving it, and so, I’m going to try my best to explain why I loved it…those 14 years ago…Shhh my mortality is already making me feel old.

In Venice, in an alternate universe, there’s an apprentice Merle, a once master thief Sera
Asghar Abbas
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it

Very interesting world building and new take on mermaids . Enjoyable .
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the concept because I´m a sucker for all things Venice,but...I don´t know. The entire story all in all was really weirdly executed and especially the dialogue between the characters was so odd and a bit cringey at times. I actually enjoyed the characters, though not all of them, the flowing queen ,or whatever her name is,she is just horrible and treats Merle like shit. I get why she does it but like no, Merle is a child and you can´t fucking treat this innocent, naive kid who trus ...more
N.T. Embe
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to N.T. by: My sister randomly picked it off the shelves.

I feel... like this book went an entirely different way by the end than it had been going towards the beginning. Honestly, I feel a little betrayed, although most people may not have the same reaction. The book started off really interesting and unusual, with two characters that were intelligent and became fast friends regardless of the oddities that they became part of. I admired both of them, Merle and Junipa, because these were girls that were willing to be friends with one another and give e
Ellie Loredan
There are books, and then there are books. You know, the ones that have turned into part of your DNA. This is one of mine, so it's simply impossible for me to write an unbiased review. Instead, I give you my rave-y ramblings on the first instalment of one of my all-time favourite series. 'Tis is a fantastical, multilayered and gorgeously written tale about a Venice of mermaids and living stone lions, of magic mirrors, mysterious queens, Egyptian necromancers, and hell. A story of friendship, sol ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impressive. The worldbuilding was excellent, with strong Venetian cultural touches - I also loved the brief mention of the Czarist people protected by "the Baba Yaga." The book had all the inherent tension of any story of a pocket of resistance in a mostly-conquered world, and the Egyptian conquerors made great villains, with their scarab swarms and undead armies. The darker aspects of the book were a little surprising sometimes, but fascinating.

I forgave the occasional awkwardness in the writin
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This might've been three, if I was in middle school.

Merle is an orphan who was chosen to be apprenticed to a mirror maker, in Venice. Her blind friend Junipa is chosen as well. Serafin is an ex-thief who is apprenticed to a tailor, but Serafin has little importance except in a small section of the book, so we're not sure why he's mentioned. In that small section, Merle and Serafin discover a plot to capture the Flowing Queen--a mysterious entity that has been protecting Venice from the invading
Avid Booker
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this book when I was in 7th grade. I asked my teacher could I keep it and after a little bit of puppy dog eyes, she let me. I read this non-stop till I finished it and I was obsessed. One thing I can say is, that I didn't finish the series and I probably wont. YES. I recommend this. YES, I think this is a wonderful young adult fantasy novel, but it's not my speed. It never was and it still isn't.

As a girl, I forced a lot of romance into this book that most likely wasn't really there. Ser
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
"What is magic but technology that men do not understand - not yet, or no longer." In an alternate Venice, stone lions pace the streets and shark-toothed mermaids swim the Venetians canals. The city is stalemated under an Egyptian siege protected by the power of a mysterious "flowing queen" whose essence permeates the waters of Venice. When the flowing queen is captured by an Egyptian plot, the city is left vulnerable and it falls to intrepid orphan Merle to save her city from Egyptian enslaveme ...more
A great read, set in a world where Venice is at war with Egypt -- and Egypt that is still ruled by a Pharaoh. The story is full of enslaved mermaids, flying stone lions, alchemy, messengers from Hell and on and on. The protagonist, a teenaged girl from Venice, is taken from an orphanage to apprentice with a man who makes magic mirrors for a living, and from there things quickly start to get loopy. Don't miss this deep, complex fantasy tale, apparently only the first in a series. This one is extr ...more
Lauren Schumacher
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
My experience of reading this book was like:

"Ah! Hmm! Oh! Ah. Ahhhhh? Uh... Hmm. Um. What?"

It's super imaginative. That isn't really a compliment, in this particular case. With a more skilled writer, I think this vast number of ideas could juuuuust barely be tied together successfully without feeling overstuffed. But Meyer is not a skilled writer. (And I'm confident that it isn't a translation issue.) It's trying very hard to be His Dark Materials, but it's more like...Eragon.

The very start of t
Emily Mangum
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it
This book was a wild ride. I loved how creative and captivating some of the ideas in this book were. The premise is unique and the magical elements fascinating. The beginning of the book sets up such a captivating magical adventure between two friends. I was in love and so excited. I was completely drawn in - at first.

Then things got too complicated. There were too many new and strange magical elements. By the time I felt like I had figured out the world that these characters live in, suddenly
Remy Schultz
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's set in Venice. I think 1800's or 1900's ? Egypt is a world power, mermaids live in "The Canal of the Expelled" against their will, lion gargoyles (whose stone classifications are a factor in their demeanors) take flight, there's a "second Venice," and a charming feud takes place between mirror-maker, Arcimboldo, + his apprentices and the master weaver across the Canal, Umberto. Merle and Junipa are orphans who work with Arcimboldo, and they have secrets. Serafin and Eft were my favorite cha ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
I loved this world, it is unique and extremely interesting. I’m afraid the issue for me lay in the translation. The writing just seemed awkward to me and it leads me to wonder if I would have had a better experience if I had read it in German. I liked the story and it was a very quick read, but I just didn’t love it.

I did not enjoy the info-dumping one bit. I always find it extremely annoying when authors do this instead of work it in in a more natural way. Due to this, I found the Flowing Queen
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I found the entire trilogy in a nearby Little Free Library and was intrigued. Unfortunately, this volume is a disappointment. I'm picky about world-building, and the world-building in this book is slapdash heading for chaotic. Venice! Magic! Egypt! Mermaids! Living stone lions! Hell! (No, really, Hell.) When the book started, I thought it would be about Merle and her new friend and fellow apprentice Junipa...and then suddenly Merle meets a certain boy and the plot becomes all about her and him a ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
*This was a reread*
I have always loved Venice and magic and this book combined both. Since I was little I have loved this book. This book contains an interesting look at magic and mythical creatures that I have never seen before. The world surrounding Venice is taken over by the newly risen pharaoh and he is closing in. The fate of Venice seems to fall into the hands of a orphan girl named Merle. With flying stone lions and mermaids, this book is a quick and great read. I highly recommend you ta
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, audiobook, 2018
What a great audiobook! Thanks Toby Longworth for a great narration. The story and the writing are very good, but the narration took it to the next level for me. I had so much fun listening to it.

Even though it is shelved as YA on Goodreads, I would consider it a middle-grade fantasy novel. But it definitely does have a feeling of darkness. In that sense, it reminded me Neil Gaiman's children books.

Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book was magical and whimsical—it gave me a lot of nostalgia and I know I would have absolutely adored it as a twelve year old. It was a bit of a strain on my suspension of disbelief at times but was charming enough for me to overlook that. Worth the read, and you will want the sequels on hand to find out what happens to Merle, the heroine. Great fantasy with unique concepts and vivid world building.
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
The imagery was beautiful. Plot was definitely busy-I mean we have mermaids, stone lions, magic mirrors, the Flowing Queen...all this works for me with the Venice setting but then we have invading Egyptians with mummy armies and also literal Hell and some very vividly described denizens. And at the end they allude to another region that worships the literal Baba Yaga. There is a lot going on for it but I'm hooked and ready to read the next installment! ...more
Lacey D-Bell
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book consisted of pages and pages of a character explaining the history of this fantasy/alternate version of Venice rather than allowing us to experience those pages as part of the story.

There were moments where this story had potential, which is why it didn't get 1-star only, but that potential was never seen, unfortunately.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I am biased, because I loved this book as a kid. Still, I loved it and enjoyed that it was very fast-paced, though more room on world-building might have been nice. Regardless, I keep being facinated with Meyer's world - his ideas a certainly different from mainstream YA (or middle-grade?) fantasy. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Series-typo (twice) - Superlibrarian needed(?) 7 37 Nov 14, 2019 10:33AM  

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With millions of books sold worldwide, Kai Meyer is one of Germany's most successful authors. His novels have been translated into 27 languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Chinese.

Kai Meyer was born in 1969 in northern Germany. He began college at the University of Bochum, Germany, where he studied film, theatre, and philosophy. After a year, he dropped out t

Other books in the series

Merle-Zyklus (4 books)
  • The Stone Light (Dark Reflections, #2)
  • The Glass Word (Dark Reflections, #3)
  • Serafin. Das kalte Feuer (Merle-Zyklus, #4)

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