Dark Reflections is an omnibus edition of the Dark Reflections trilogy by Kai Meyer: The Water Mirror, The Stone Light, and The Glass Word. They tell the story of a young orphan, Merle, and her friend, Junipa, who are brought into the home of Arcimboldo, a master craftsman of magic mirrors bought by the rich women of Venice, Italy. Merle has always had in her possession a special mirror, through which she is able to touch the comforting hand of a stranger, the person she believes to be one of her parents. Juniper has been blind since birth, until Arcimboldo implants special mirrors in her eyes that allow her to see in the dark — and much more. Life for the two girls is fraught with troubles, since Venice is under siege by the powerful Egyptian Empire, which has taken over the world through the use of dark magics.
Merle and her new friend, young thief turned weaver’s apprentice, Serafin, save the goddess of the lagoons of Venice, the Flowing Queen, from being surrendered to the Egyptian representatives, and their world changes in dramatic ways. For Merle becomes the keeper of the Flowing Queen, who directs her to swallow her (since she needs to be near water at all times), and she is entrusted to keep the Flowing Queen safe and to help defeat the Egyptians. The Flowing Queen directs her to liberate the ancient enemy of Venice, the stone lion Vermithrax, from his prison, and they are off on their quest to save Venice before the Egyptian army invades. Merle is torn between her compulsion to help the Flowing Queen and protecting Junipa, who ends up being kidnapped by agents of Hell.
The epic story takes the reader from the water-laden canals of Venice, to the bizarre realm of Hell, and finally to a winter-stricken Egypt. Each part of the story exhibits a grand sense of adventure and imagination. Hosts of mythical beasts inhabit this story, from mermaids to sphinxes, not to mention an obsidian stone flying lion. The realm of Hell is presented in a novel fashion, not as the supernatural realm per se, but an underground location inhabited by nightmarish creatures called Lilim, and lead by the dapper Lord Light. Although Meyer puts a different spin on Hell, it is no less disarming, especially in light of the power of an ageless artifact of power called The Stone Light, which has the power to control those in its vicinity and sphere of influence. Initially, the use of the Egyptian Empire as the main antagonists seems odd; however, the manner of use of Egyptian mythology in this story gives it a very distinct feel.
Although the concepts in this story initially seemed strange, complex and far-fetched, the Dark Reflections trilogy is well-written fantasy. The imaginative elements cannot fail to appeal to a fan of classic fantasy. The main characters, all unlikely heroes, kept my interest, and had me rooting for their success against the invaders. And one of the villains actually also had me feeling sorry for him. Meyer does not hesitate to put his characters at risk, where you’re wondering how they will get themselves out of the tough situations they end up in. I simply had to keep reading to see what was going to happen next.
Adventure elements aside, Meyer’s deft illustrations of the bonds of friendship and family made for a poignant read. There were some dark and bittersweet aspects to this story, with its themes of sacrifice, imperialism-fueled conquest and genocide, and the inner struggle against moral corruption. As I finished this book, I had a pang in my heart, definitely a sign that my emotions were engaged.
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager; Original edition (June 12, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062064649
- ISBN-13: 978-0062064646
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