I’m delighted to be part of the Mirror Magic blog tour today. Written by Claire Fayers, Mirror Magic is a wonderful middle grade historical fantasy, and as soon as I heard the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book!
Welcome to Wyse, the only town left in Britain with a connection to the magical Unworld.
When twelve-year-old Ava meets Howell on the other side of a mirror, the two are quickly drawn into a mystery to discover why the enchantments that link their towns are disappearing.
But it’s hard to distinguish between friends and enemies when magic is involved and Ava and Howell soon learn that it can be very unwise to mess with mirrors…
So, this book couldn’t be any further up my street if it lived in my house, so obviously I loved it. Set in a slightly alternate Victorian England, the action takes place in Wyse, a small town on the border of England and Wales, which is the last place in Britain that still has a connection to magic. The first thing I’ll say is that this setting was perfectly evoked! Wyse is one of those small tourist towns that you still see today, and I could picture it exactly in my mind. Wyse’s tourism trade, however, isn’t to do with the countryside, or history – people visit Wyse because of its connection to the Unworld and the Fair Folk who live there. It’s governed by Lord Skinner, who is a fine gentleman, and has invited young orphans Matthew and his sister Ava to return to the town where they were born. At the same time, Howell, the only one of the Fair Folk without magic, has attracted the attention of Unywse’s ruler, Mr Bones, which is not a good thing. (Incidentally, Mr Bones, who is a skeleton, is genuinely scary, and I say that as a 38 year old! But he’s exactly the sort of villain you need in a book like this and children will love the scariness I think.)
There are a lot of mysteries in Mirror Magic, some of which are more guessable than others, but they all combine to form an excellent story. I really enjoyed seeing how they all came together. Ava and Howell are a great pairing, and I even think about them every so often to wonder how they’re getting on! I mean, that’s how you know you’ve connected to the characters! Even the secondary characters are wonderful, from Charles and his family, who believe the Fair Folk are being exploited to Lunette, the mysterious lady who triggers a lot of events (and her ridiculous hats are amazing and I want them!). One of my favourite things about Mirror Magic is the chapter headings from The Book, which are funny and accurate. The Book eventually turns up almost as a character in its own right, and it’s such a good idea. I loved how Mirror Magic was so cleverly structured.
In short, Claire Fayers has done a magnificent job with Mirror Magic. It really took me back to my own childhood and the books I was reading then, like Joan Aiken and Lucy M Boston. I would say it’s probably best for the younger end of middle grade, which is younger than I usually read, but that just goes to show that you shouldn’t limit your reading material, because otherwise you might miss out on gems like this!
Mirror Magic is out now, and I highly recommend it for everyone, whatever your age!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!
ARC received from MacMillan Children’s Books via Karen Bultiauw, in exchange for an honest review