Review Detail

3.0 2
Young Adult Fiction 1107
An alternate reality, a magical Venice
Overall rating
Writing Style
If youre looking for something a little different, a little magical, and very original, The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer is exactly what youre looking for. The first book in the Dark Reflections series, it leaves you wanting more much more at the end. Im hoping the next book in the series makes its way to my desk.

The story is set in an alternate world, in the early 1900s. Venice is a magical place in our own world, but doubly so in Meyers vision. Shark-toothed mermaids glide down the canals, stone lions patrol the city, and merchants can craft magic mirrors. It is also a time of war the mysterious Flowing Queen is the only thing that has kept the fearsome Egyptian army from taking over the city.

Two orphan girls, adventurous Merle and blind Junipa, are sent to be apprentices to Arcimboldo, the magic mirror maker. He is a kind man and restores Junipas site with miniature magic mirrors to replace her own faulty eyes. The other apprentices are a mixed lot, led by the bullying Dario, who especially hates the Weavers apprentices that are just a stones throw across the canal. They are lead by Serafino, a cheeky boy who figures largely in the story.

Merle meets up with Serafino at a festival and he takes her to a deserted part of the city to show her how there sometimes seem to be two Venices the one they live in, and the one reflected in the water (perhaps ours?). While there, they uncover a plot whereby some of the rulers of the city have captured the essence of the Flowing Queen and are going to trade her to an Egyptian envoy for a place in the new government, once the Egyptians have invaded and taken over.

That would mean the end of the city as Merle and Serafino know it. They do what any brave citizen would (perhaps) they storm the meeting and somehow successfully capture the vial that holds the Flowing Queen. As they are being chased by the stone lions that guard the government officials, they get separated.

Merle, who had been touched by the Flowing Queen in the past (likely something that happened at her birth or soon thereafter, as she was found floating in the canal in a basket with only a magic water mirror with her), soon finds herself communicating with the Flowing Queen, who talks her into swallowing the contents of the vial.

Things move along at a rapid pace after that, including Merles rescue of Vermithrax, an ancient stone lion being held in a tower, a minion of hell appearing and offering help to the citizens, the secret mission of Arcimboldo&lets just say that a lot is packed into the end of the book, all of it leading to a cliffhanger-type ending that will leave the reader crying out for more.

I highly recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, especially if youre a little weary of the same-old, same-old stock stories. For readers aged 12 and up, both girls and boys will enjoy this one and even the cover art is mysteriously beautiful.
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