Dark Mirror by M J Putney

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Dark Mirror by M J Putney

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Exciting and enjoyable combination of magic, history, and romance. Good enough to enjoy as a stand-alone but also lays the groundwork for what could be a superb series.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2011
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0312622848

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Born around a hundred years after the nobility decided that magic was a tool which should be used only by commoners, when Tory Mansfield discovers she can float in the air she knows she must keep it to herself. Until a terrible accident leaves her powers as the only thing that can save one of her family, and she's forced to reveal herself and face disgrace and humiliation. For an outed mage in London's high society there's only one thing that can be done – a spell in Lackland Abbey, the school which can cure youngsters of magic. Not everyone at Lackland wants to be cured, though… and Tory needs to decide whether her powers are a curse or a gift.

Okay, we have fantasy, historical fiction set in two different time periods, and romance – if there's one thing you certainly can't accuse Putney of it's a lack of ambition in her first YA novel! Considering her background as a historical romance novelist it's of no surprise that her settings are absolutely fantastic – I felt she brought the abbey to life really well, and the other time period the book takes place in was also brilliantly done. In addition, the prologue set in the late 17th century explaining why a group of nobles chose to make magic unfashionable was a gripping introduction.

If anything, given Putney's previous experience, it's the budding romance between Tory and another mage Allarde which is perhaps the weakest part of the book. They didn't seem to have enough time together to become a couple I really cared about, although I thought they were both excellent characters as individuals. Two non-romantic pairings which held significantly more interest for me were Tory and her roommate Cynthia Stanton, who I thought was brilliantly developed as a character, changing from a standard bitchy teenager in a historical setting to someone much more interesting, and Tory and teacher Miss Wheaton who revealed some hidden depths as the book progressed.

I have to be honest and say that when Tory originally traveled in time to another period I absolutely loathed the change – Putney had done such a good job of building up the characters in the first half of the book that I couldn't see why on earth she'd change things so dramatically. Thankfully I'll know when I read more of her books to have much more faith in her as an author – the two time periods are tied together expertly and we see some very interesting new additions to the cast.

In closing this is easy enough to recommend to anyone who just wants to read a good historical fantasy, but it's even better point is the promise of further adventures for Tory in the future with the sequel Dark Passage due fairly soon. Definitely high on my list of anticipated releases!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For more fantastic historical fiction for teens, I loved The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees.

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Buy Dark Mirror by M J Putney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Mirror by M J Putney at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dark Mirror by M J Putney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Mirror by M J Putney at Amazon.com.


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