Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review - THE DARK MIRROR

The Dark Mirror - Juliet Marillier
Genre: Historical Fantasy (*love* that genre!)
# of pages: 592 (UK edition paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 15+


Note: This is not a YA novel, so it's not written to a teen target audience, BUT...upper high schoolers will be able to handle the multiple storylines, battle-scene violence, and historical information just fine
Before I read Wildwood Dancing, THIS book was my absolute favorite historical fantasy novel (as in blending the two genres of historical fiction and fantasy into one). I am such a fan of Juliet Marillier's, and this is my favorite non-YA novel of hers. Absolutely brilliant!
Excellent blend of history and fantasy in a quite unique timeperiod: writing about the 6th century Picts is no easy feat, since most of their culture has been lost. I will caution that this is a very "wordy" book: Juliet Marillier is very good about drawing readers into her story through vividly descriptive passages. In other words, she spends a lot of time, I think, on details, and sometimes that can seem overwhelming. Fact and fiction may blend - and I'm not sure where they meet - but everything is very, very detailed. Sometimes (and I felt this way reading her other book) I think that she could pick up the pace a bit and nothing would be lost, but whatever... It was a fun read. I certainly have found a new character to add to my list of all-time favorites: Bridei himself; it's always good to like the main character. If you've gotta read about 'em, you might as well like 'em. And the little irksome thing from Wolfskin has been entirely reconciled ;) That's another likeable thing about Bridei, heehee. Too bad Eyvind, you've been replaced!
- At its very core, the story revolves around the preparation of a boy, Bridei, to be king of Fortriu (ancient northern Scotland), and his relationship with Tuala, a mysterious foundling he discovers as a child. I absolutely loved their story--it was indeed my favorite part of the book. However, they spend nearly half of the 600+ pages apart from each other; I really liked the scenes where they were together, so I had to discipline myself against skimming ahead! The last 50 or so pages are definitely the best part :) The Bridei & Tuala scenes, I think, are the very heart of the book, and I wish that the 663-page saga would have featured more of them together. Not sure how I feel about Broichan: I flip-flopped between hating him and understanding him. He was certainly an interesting figure, that's for sure.
The only "complaint" I have is that the story, in my honest opinion, didnt have to be so long.
I know, who am I to say something like that? Stories can be however long the author wants them to be!!!!
It's just that her plot has so many twists and turns, I started to see patterns: I could almost sense when she was going to yank the plot in another direction, and after 600 pages, it started to get a bit old. It seems to me that this book had a little too much information: it really wanted to be a historical, it really wanted to be romantic, it really wanted to be a fantasy... And the funny thing is, The Dark Mirror *is* all those things: it's just that Marillier could have heavily simplified and lost nothing of her magic. She is an excellent writer; at no point is she "boring," but she requires a lot of concentration and a lot of stamina. She gives you such a great, simple story and such wonderful characters that you feel impatient and angsty for the resolution to come.

***So great book! I give this a 5 because even though the immense details tend to bog down the plot, her story at its heart is simple and beautiful, and her characters are enjoyable and loveable.


Final Rating
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5 shout-outs!:

Dazzling Mage said...

I really need to go back to reading huge but awesome series. Adding this to my TBR. Awesome review. =)

....Petty Witter said...

Also participating in the September spectacular Reading Challenge, I thought I'd stop by and say hello.I love the look of your blog, the header is truly magical. Anyway, nice to meet you, I've enjoyed my visit.

Melissa said...

Oh, brilliant review, Amelia! I've yet to read this one, but I'm definitely intrigued by the story line, and how can I resist such a great rating? :)

Christina T said...

I love Juliet Marillier's books. My favorite series is still the Sevenwaters series but I did enjoy these. This one did drag for me a little at times but I loved the characters enough to keep reading on. I preferred book 3, The Well of Shades. Great review!

I can't wait to read Seer of Sevenwaters.

jen7waters said...

Hey Amelia! if you like Juliet you have to read Daughter of the Forest! The Sevenwaters trilogy!!

 
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