‘…Mirrors are usually passed down from father to son, but they don’t have to be. It is said that the original conjurors had some fairy blood in them, which was why they could use the mirrors, and that ability runs through families.’
(Mirror Magic by Claire Fayers. P29.)
Wyse is the only town left in Britain with a connection to the magical Unworld. Ava and her brother Matthew are forced to return to Wyse following the death of their father. The once magical town is no longer so magical, and it is under the control of Lord Skinner. What does Lord Skinner want? Why is he so interested in Ava Harcourt?
Ava looks into a magical mirror and meets Howell, who lives in Unwyse in the magical Unworld. Howell is the only one of the Fair Folk without magic. It seems he is doomed to a life of drudgery until the sinister Mr Bones takes a special interest in him.
What is the connection between Lord Skinner and Mr Bones? Ava and Howell race to discover the truth and save the magic which connects the two worlds.
An enchanting middle-grade fantasy. I love the setting: 1852, a town on the border between England and Wales, which happens to be the last place in Britain with a connection to the magical Unworld. I loved that premise that reflections are something more than what we see in the mirror. That conjurors can bring magical mirrors to life and use them to communicate with the Unworld.
There are several mysteries set up early on in the story: what happened that Ava’s father cut ties with the magical world? Is the mark on Ava’s face really left over from measles? Why have the magical mirrors stopped working? Who is Mr Bones and why does he want The Book? The answers are all connected in a way which is not immediately apparent, and I love how the story affects people on both sides of the mirror.
The world building is sublime. From fairy-tat gift shops to the mirror station, it feels as if Claire Fayers has visited her world rather than invented it. I loved how the magical setting fitted neatly in with British history. Some people reckon The Industrial Revolution killed the need for magic, for example, and magic is developing alongside industrial progress.
The book of magic which Ava and Howell must protect has a mind of its own. It can see into the future. Words appear on its pages, sometimes warning the characters of imminent danger, at other times spouting about novels which have not yet been written or events which will happen in 60 years. It is a witty, snarky book. Excerpts from the book appear at the head of each chapter, and I imagine they will cause young readers great hilarity.
I enjoyed this story very much. It is a must for fans of James Nicol and Abi Elphinstone. A real gem.
Thanks to Karen Bultiauw and Macmillain Children’s Books for my copy of Mirror Magic. Opinions my own.