The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

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The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Sylas has been lonely and wretched since the terrible day his uncle told him his mother was dead. But an odd encounter sends him on an extraordinary adventure as he discovers his destiny as one of the two people born to save a hidden world of mystery and magic, as well as his own.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007491223

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The hero of this long and engrossing book is a boy of twelve, orphaned, lonely and unloved. He spends the little free time he has in creating beautiful kites covered in complicated, colourful designs until the day he meets a strange old man who sets him on the path to his destiny as a saviour of not one but two worlds. But in line with the traditions of the genre, this path will be fraught with fear, danger and loss.

He barely has time to consider the odd gifts the old man gives him before he finds himself in a desperate struggle to avoid huge, menacing beasts which seek to capture, maybe even kill him. He meets several people on his path who help him escape and learn more about the new world he suddenly finds himself in (though not all of them are what they first seem) and he quickly learns and has to accept that innocent people may well die because of him. It's a hard burden for such a young boy to carry.

Fantasy as a genre is very often written at greater length than other books. The requirement to build a world different from our own, where magic holds sway and unfamiliar creatures abound, means that the pace may occasionally seem slower than in many other adventure stories, and any younger reader tackling this book will simply have to take that on board. It's a hefty tome (at 512 pages it will keep even the most avid of young readers quiet for days, which makes it an ideal holiday read) and while that may seem daunting, the characters, themes and relationships are all perfectly appropriate for readers of about the same age as the hero. He may travel for most of the book with a girl, but theirs is a warm and uncomplicated friendship which at times resembles a sibling relationship as they tease each other and compete to run faster, be braver, understand more quickly. He is young enough to accept that adults will know more about things than he does, but old enough to formulate a plan and carry it out when the need arises. And all the time he is coming to terms with his amazing powers, and his role in the history of worlds . . .

The story is dramatic and the perils are both real and colourfully described. There is joy, excitement and comfort as well as terror and regret, and the ending perfectly concludes the adventure while leaving the way open for a sequel or two. It's a big story, in every sense of the term, and for readers prepared to give it the time and attention it will prove a very satisfying experience.

Highly recommended.

Another lengthy but very enjoyable book which portrays magic as a serious, sometimes even dangerous power rather than a glorified parlour trick is Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz, in which two young people are pawns in a battle between magicians who are both strong and ruthless.

Buy The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mirror Chronicles: the Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone at Amazon.com.


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