Dark Reflections is a trilogy about Venice, orphans, glass makers, gondolas, mermaids and magic. It is about Egyptians, mummies, sphinx and war. It is about the denizens and environs of Hell. Starting to get the picture? Oh no you don't. Not by a long shot because none of these familiar elements are going to be familiar at all.
No, in this Venice there are shark faced mermaids who tow gondolas through the canals. It is a Venice where stone lions do not grace the architecture, they patrol the streets and fly through the air. Here the Egyptians are the conquerors, not the Romans, and they use armies of scarabs and undead mummies to wipe out any populace they encounter. And Hell? Well, I'm not even going to try and describe Hell. Suffice it to say it is unlike anything you might have imagined.
A Young Adult Fantasy Series Review by Mulluane
♦ What I Didn't Like. When I first started reading this series, I thought this was an alternate history. The elements of the story, ie apprenticed orphans, child thieves, guards patrolling on stone lions, invading Egyptians, all felt ancient to me. But as I kept reading more modern elements appeared. Rifles, steam factories, scientific laboratories, steel gears and submarines started creeping into the story. Even the language at times was more modern than you might expect. It started throwing me off stride as I struggled to fit all of these things into a picture of this reality as a whole. Ultimately I failed. I never got comfortable with the odd mix.
My second peeve was the lack of understandable motivation for the main characters. On the surface, they all want the same thing: save Venice from the Egyptians. But I never developed a sympathetic bond with any of them. Most of the time they just seemed to be going with the flow, letting events carry them forward, without any concrete plan or reason for doing pretty much anything. This is why I called this a mystery, adventure, who-done-it. The events proceed, clues to what is going on slowly unfold, but nothing they do along the way, as near as I can tell, directly affects the outcome. An important role is played by all in the conclusion, but the rest of the time they were just going here and there accomplishing very little.
♦ My Thoughts. First thing I want to note is that this is a translation from German into English. Since I have not read it in its original form, I can only venture an opinion of this version. It could very well have been a good translation, or it may not. I have no way to tell.
Second thing I want to note is that this was written for a young adult audience. While normally that does not make any difference in my enjoyment of a book, this book has made me question that assessment. Because I am a student of history (note I said student, I'm no expert) certain elements of this tale just didn't mesh together for me. This could have 2 sources. A.) I'm just too old to suspend belief as far as was needed and/or B.) the translation was flawed and elements inserted where they should not have been.
Of course there are other options. This just wasn't my cuppa tea is one. It is not a "bad" book but any book where I have to keep going "huh?" and rereading lines, paragraphs, or whole pages to see if I somehow missed something, is not a book I am enjoying very much. It is also possible that had I known this was supposed to depict the late 18 early 1900s before I started reading, I might have been less shocked by the magic + ancient + technology mix. I doubt it though. One of my main questions throughout was "why do it that way when doing it this way is not only possible, but more practical."
♦ Conclusion. I know my "did not like" section far outweighed my "like" section but this series has alot to commend it. The creativity is off the charts. I will never look at another mermaid without trying to imagine it with a shark face, nor will I ever see a stone lion gracing a building without imagining it in flight. And while I could not come to terms with the mix, I have to admit that the imagination involved in creating this world was amazing.
The pacing was fairly solid. Something surprising was pretty much going on all the time. The conclusion too was solid with most of the various mysteries solved, and in ways that were not always predictable. Even with all the things that nagged at me, I never lost my desire to see how the story played out. I did not care about what happened to the characters but I did want to know how all the bits and pieces fit together. All in all, it was a good book but not one I personally feel compelled to ever reread.
If this is something that you would be interested in reading, I suggest checking my individual book reviews for a more detailed assessment of each book. If it is a series you have already read, I'd love to hear your opinions, or rebuttals in the comments section. Hope to see you there!
|Author: Kai Meyer
Genre: Fantasy Series, Young Adult
Content: Alternate Reality, Mythology
Series: Dark Reflections
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Personal Copies
|Cover Art Omnibus: Russell Gordon|
Dark Reflections - The Movie
Water Mirror in US is titled The Flowing Queen in UK
Author's Web Presence
Website (English) - Twitter - Facebook (German)
All available in Kindle, first 2 books in Audible
Omnibus only available in print.
See individual reviews for more information.
More Great Young Adult Fantasy
Young Adult Fantasy Series Review of Dark Reflections Trilogy by Kai Meyer - Reviewed by Mulluane - on December 19 2013 - Rating: of 5 Stars