( Toggle may not function in some feed readers.)
| Author: Kai Meyer
| Genre: YA Fantasy
| Age Range: 12 and up
| ISBN-10: 0689877889
| ISBN-13: 9780689877889
| Content: Alternate Reality, Mermaids, Mythology
| Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books: First Edition (August 22, 2006)
| Elizabeth D. Crawford (Translator)
| Cover Artist: Russell Gordon
| Paperback: 272 pages
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 3 Stars
This tale takes place in the canals of Venice but not the Venice you and I are familiar with. No, this Venice is full of mythical creatures, powerful magic, and evil doings. Not only is this not Venice as we know it but even the mythical elements are unique. Imagine both walking and flying stone lions, enslaved mermaids with shark like faces, flying egyptian sunbarks, magical mirrors, and a city under siege by egyptian zombies. And to make things even more interesting, it appears that Venice's salvation can only be accomplished by making a treaty with the denizens of Hell.
Dark Reflections, written by a german author and translated into english, is a dark and creative book. It follows the adventures of a pair of orphans, apprenticed to two rival merchants, who stumble on to a dark conspiracy. Soon the pair are in over their heads as they try to find a way to save their beloved city.
Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane
♦ My Thoughts. It has been awhile since I've read any YA but when I found the omnibus edition of The Dark Reflections in a bargain bin, I snapped it up. This was a rare find. I can not resist a book bin, but I almost never find more than a book, maybe two, in a series. To find a fantasy omnibus made my day.
I was a bit wary about it being a translation. I have seen some that were excellent, and others that obviously lost something along the way. Either way, there was only one way I was going to find out. Soon as I got home I dove head first into the pages.
♦ What I Liked. The spin Kai Meyer put on some familiar fantasy elements was fascinating. I love it when fantasy tropes are turned on their heads then flipped inside out. Otherwise beautiful mermaids, but with hideous shark like heads, are enslaved and used to pull gondolas through the canals of Venice. Those winged stone lions that today you see gracing the buildings, are alive, also enslaved and used as guards. Egyptians, not Romans, are the major invaders in this tale with their armies of undead mummies, flame throwing flying ships and powerful navy. And only thing that has saved Venice up to this point is the being know simply as the "Flowing Queen" who protects Venice's lagoon and prevents the Egyptian galleys from entering the waterways. And that barely scratches the surface. There are literally too many unique components to list.
♦ What I didn't like. I am not sure if something was lost in the translation or if it was simply a matter of too much story and not enough character development, but I felt disconnected. I liked the orphans who are at the heart of this story but I never developed a sympathetic connection. Instead I felt more sympathy for the mythical entities. This may improve later on, now that the worldbuilding is covered, but it may not. I am struggling with the characters' motivation. It feels like the story is moving the characters instead of the characters moving the story. If that makes sense.
I also have my usual problem with the drop you off the edge of a cliff abrupt ending. Good thing I have the omnibus because otherwise, I'd be seriously frustrated.
♦ Conclusion. I am on the fence so far. The uniqueness and creativity is priceless. If I was rendering an opinion based on the worldbuilding alone, I'd give it a five out of five. However, the portrayal of the characters could have been better. There were too many convenient scenes. Events consistently took place simply because the protagonists were in the right place (or wrong place depending on how you look at it) at just the right time.There is also the fact that there are so many storylines to keep track of. There is the lions' story, the mermaids' story, the orphans' stories, the Flowing Queen's story, Venice's story, the mirror maker's story, his housekeeper's story and a budding romance to keep track of. Deep breath... Never boring mind you, not with all of that going on, but a bit overwhelming at times.
Irregardless, I am hooked. Not by the orphans but instead I really want to know where all those stories are going. Especially the ones involving the mermaids and the lions. There is plenty of mystery, conflict, danger, double dealing and drama to keep me well entertained even if I never grow to love or even understand the protagonists. We'll have to wait and see if that is enough to pull me through book two.
(21 customer reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Water Mirror (Dark Reflections Trilogy)
Buy Book: AbeBooks - BAM
Amazon: US - Canada - UK
Young Adult Fantasy Book Review of The Water Mirror: (Dark Reflections Trilogy: Book 1) by Kai Meyer - Reviewed by Mulluane - on November 25, 2013 - Rating: of 5 Stars