Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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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