Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney

Dark Mirror
Author: M. J. Putney
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin (March 1, 2011)

Description: Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status. 

Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted . . . by magic.

When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.

But Tory’s life is about to change forever. All that she’s ever known or considered important will be challenged. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth. 

My Thoughts: Putney's young adult debut was an exciting magical adventure with a bit of romance. Tory begins with the typical aristocratic attitude the magic is something for only the lower classes. After discovering that she has magical ability, she is determined to learn to control it and to hide it. However, it is necessary to use her abilities to save the life of her nephew. Her reward is being shipped to Lackland Abbey to be cured of her magic and to never be able to fulfill the dreams of an Earl's daughter. 

There are three different groups of students there. The first group is happy with their magic and reconciled to social ruin in order to use it. The second group are nice girls who just want to learn to control the magic and go back to their ordinary lives. The third group also wants to be cured and return to their ordinary lives but they also delight in making everyone else at the school miserable while they wait. Naturally, Tory's roommate is one of these spoiled and over-privileged girls. Cynthia is beautiful but has a very mean and nasty personality.

Tory quickly becomes part of an underground group that is learning to control their magic and use it for England's good. Napoleon is poised on the other side of the English channel determined to conquer Britain. The group includes boys from the companion boys' school, girls and mage children from the local town. Also included are a couple of teachers from the schools too. One of the boys is the Marquis of Allarde. If he isn't disinherited by his father because of his magical gifts, he will be a Duke one day. He is also smart, handsome and brave and all of the girls - especially Tory's roommate - would like to catch his eye. Allarde and Tory have some connection but Allarde is determined to ignore it.

The underground labyrinth is frequently raided by the school to catch those students and teachers who are determined to learn to use their magic. During one such raid, Tory is separated from her friends, finds a magical mirror, and finds herself traveling in time. Most of the rest of the story takes place in that time. One of the people from the future, a descendant of one of Tory's mage friends, returns to the past to beg Tory's help with a problem in his time. Tory and some of her fellow mage students travel to the future to help.

This was an interesting, engaging, and entertaining story. I think it would appeal to young adults who like magic, historical fiction, romance, and time travel. I am looking forward to the second book in the series Dark Passage which will be published in September. 

Favorite Quote:
"'The center of the world is where I place my feet,'" Polly quoted. "A teacher told us that was a Spanish expression." Her foot tapped the floor under the table. "This is the center of my world. Real is what can see and touch."
See a list of all of Mary Jo Putney's books here at Fantastic Fiction.


  1. That's interesting that the ones with magic would be considered lower class, I would think that would put them at the top. I really like the sound of this book. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to read it soon. Great review.

  2. I love the quote! Sounds like a good one. One more off the stack!


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