Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dark Mirror

Dark Mirror

M.J. Putney
For ages 14 and up
St. Martin's Griffin, 2011   ISBN: 978-0312622848

There was a time when aristocrats and working people alike used to be proud if they were mages, people who have the ability to wield magic. However, now, thanks to the meddling of a few titled gentlemen, artistocrats eschew using magic themselves, though they are not above letting mages from the other classes perform magic on their behalf.

Lovely sixteen year old Lady Victoria Mansfield has a wonderful life. She lives in a beautiful home, she is loved by her parents and siblings, and her prospects for finding a good husband in the not too distant future are good. Then one morning she wakes up to find that she is floating above her bed. Tory discovers that her Russian great grandmother apparently had magical abilities, and it would appear that she has inherited them. Tory knows that her only hope is to keep her ability hidden, but when her nephew falls off a cliff, Tory cannot help going to save him, and everyone sees that she can fly.

Tory’s father is furious that his child is contaminated with mage blood, and all her friends quickly distance themselves from her. Suddenly she is a social pariah, and her father responds by sending Tory to Lackland Abbey, a special school where the rich send their mage children so that they can have their magic removed. Tory does not want to leave home, but she accepts that the only way to get her life back is to comply and to learn how to suppress her ability as quickly as possible.

Lackland Abbey is a grim place, but there are some kind people there, including a teacher who seems to understand how Tory feels. Tory is getting used to the lessons and life at the abbey when she hears that there is a system of tunnels called the Labyrinth beneath the abbey and she decides to explore them. What she discovers beneath the old building amazes her. The Labyrinth is being used as a secret meeting place by a group of young people, boys and girls, from the school above who do not want to deny their abilities. Instead they want to hone them and use them to protect England from her enemies. Napoleon and his armies are not far off, and it would be useful to be able to use magic to protect England from invasion. The group members call themselves the Irregulars, and they are led by Miss Wheaton and Mr. Stevens, two of the Lackland Abbey teachers.

All is going well at the secret gatherings until one night when the tunnels are raided. Desperate not to get caught, Tory runs deep into the tunnel system until she encounters a mirror. When she touches the mirror the most extraordinary thing happens. The mirror transports Tory to the future.

This is the first in what promises to be a fascinating series of books. Readers who have an interest in magic and the working of magic will thoroughly enjoy reading about the adventures that Tory and her young friends have. Touched with romance and using real events from history, the author weaves fact and fiction together seamlessly to give readers a first rate read.