The Mirror Visitor is Book 1 of the translated French fantasy quartet - A Winter’s Promise.
At The Lane we have shelved this title in the young adult section, however like Pullman’s Dark Materials series its complexity will appeal to, and grip fantasy readers of all ages.
‘God smashed the world to pieces’ leaving a series of Arks, floating islands that are ruled by dynastic clans. Separate, but linked by history and gossamer thin alliances each Ark is unique, able to contort time and space and each with their own codes of conduct and social mores. As readers we recognise the worlds of the Arks, there is a familiarity that twitches in your mind’s eye. It is a universe of illusion and magic but its arranged marriages and strict social norms echo Dickens and the world of the Brontes. The excesses and intrigues of court reminded me of the dissolute Sun King’s Versailles, albeit with a fantastical twist and the carousing balls would have had Marie Antoinette clapping her hands in delight.
Ophelia’s home is Anima, an Ark where objects have souls. Different from the other females in her family she can read objects and mirror travel. Independent, intelligent (and unfortunately clumsy) she has been promised to Thorn, a member of The Dragons, a powerful warrior family from The Pole Ark. The Pole is distant and yes cold, brutal and bitterly, bitterly cold. Installed within the dreamlike estate of her future husband Ophelia comes to realise that it is her unique gifts as a reader that has made her valuable to some while posing a dangerous threat to others.
In this first volume we watch as Ophelia learns not to trust anyone as she navigates the dangerous world she has been thrust into. A world where everything is an illusion to mask cruelty, jealousy and desire. 490 pages later we leave her – unfortunately still clumsy, but also wiser, steelier and determined to belong to no one but herself.