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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Dark Mirror

Author: M.J. Putney
Originally Published: 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Received through the LibraryThing EarlyReviewers program

The Story


As the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Fairmount, Lady Victoria “Tory” Mansfield is destined for a charmed life of status and wealth. The envy of many young girls, Tory knows she is lucky which is why she goes to great lengths to hide her special talent… magic. If her powers were exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Which is exactly what happens when a shocking accident forces Tory to reveal her magic, and she is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for other young men and women in her unique position.

What lies ahead is a strange and wonderful world where Tory will learn that it is not her social standing or her family’s wealth, but destiny and magic, true love and friendship, and courage and strength that determine her real worth as a young woman.
Text taken from the back of the book

The Response

Oh, look at the pretty cover! The pretties! I want to snuggle the pretties! And it so suits the book too, oh! Lovely lovely! Cute! Regency! Fun times!

Okay, first of all, this book totally takes place during two of my favourite periods to read about – the Napoleonic wars AND WWII. Eep! How could one girl get so lucky to have two of her favourite time periods in one book? See, at Lackland Abbey, there’s this mirror that sends her forward in time! So while she starts out in the early 1800’s, learning to use her magical powers to help England in the war against Napoleon, she is soon transported to WWII-era England where she really uses her magical powers to help defend England from Nazi invasion. Oh fun!

The only thing I didn’t like about the time-travel bit was the fact that the characters who travelled to the future didn’t really suffer from much culture shock. Yes, the first night Tory was there was unsettling for her, but after that it was like everyone else just accepted everything MUCH easier than someone would have who was time traveling for the first time in real life. (Because time travel is real, yo. Doctor Who tells me so.) This put a bit of a damper on my full enjoyment of the parts where we first enter one time period, but once the characters were present at any point in time for a while, it was certainly still highly enjoyable!

As far as the characters went, the supporting characters were definitely where it was at. So much growth in Cynthia! So much more to Elspeth than we first see! Allarde was so aloof yet charming and swoon-worthy! And the Rainford’s – in both time periods – are the type of people I would love to be friends with in real life! So caring and willing to do whatever they can to help others out! Oh wonderful cast of characters! It balances out what felt was lacking in Tory – real depth.

I was a little disappointed by the ending, in which we know the group of teens are going to make their way back to their own time, but we don’t actually see it – and so, we don’t know if the teachers had to deal with any repercussions with allowing the kids to go, or if Cynthia is no longer a crazy bitch in her own period and time, or anything interesting like that. There were loose ends and not nearly enough closure.

The Bottom Line

There were some things that didn’t work right for me, but overall this was super cute. Would recommend to regency fans – especially those who enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia!

Other Reviews

Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Story Siren, The Broke and the Bookish, Consumed by Books, Linus’s Blanket. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:00 am April 27, 2011.
Category: Young Adult
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  • http://myreadingbooks.blogspot.com Kailana

    Sounds good! I like both of those time periods, too, so I will have to see about this book.