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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: March 1, 2011
Pages: 304
Source: Won from Books Are A Girl's Best Friend (Thanks!)
Rating: 2 Stars

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, itcould 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.

In short: Unfortunately, Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney was unable to capture my interest and somehow managed to make even magic lame and boring.
Magic plus time travel. Can't go wrong, right? Unfortunately, much to my surprise and dismay, Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney didn't work for me. It was an amalgamation of things that didn't work but ultimately, I was bored. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters or the plot. Nothing inspired any stirrings of interest; if I was the type to DNF books, I would've done so within the first 50 pages of Dark Mirror.

The magical abilities that Tory and her friends have weren't even interesting, which I didn't think was possible. Talk about some of the lamest magical powers ever. One guy is an expert at moving clouds around; one girl specializes in heating things; one guy is particularly good at finding things. LAME. And they seriously thought they were going to be able to take on Napoleon's army with these powers? Don't get me wrong, it's noble and all that they want to fight for England, but they were clearly delusional.

I disliked the writing as well but I'm not sure I could put into words exactly what didn't work for me. It seemed a bit amateurish, though I know that's not true because M.J. Putney is a fairly experienced author. I guess I thought the writing was too simple and bare. I'm not saying I need writing to be extremely flowery and detailed all the time, but I like to be able to experience more fully the surroundings, the plot elements, and the characters' personalities than Dark Mirror allowed me.

One thing that I was impressed by was the setting: not one, but two historical settings were involved, 1803 and WWII. M.J. Putney demonstrates a great amount of knowledge of the eras, though I would've preferred had she not stated this knowledge so matter of factly in the novel. If she had interwoven the historical information more seamlessly into the plot (something that Rick Yancey, author of The Monstrumologist Series, does very well), then I would've been truly impressed.

Think you might want to give this one a try yourself? Enter my giveaway to win Dark Mirror and Choker (Hmm? What's that? You no longer have any interest in entering my giveaway now that I've trashed the book? Well, for what it's worth, other bloggers seemed to enjoy Dark Mirror more than I did.)

Other Reviews:
Books Are A Girl's Best Friend
Small Review
Tales of Whimsy

Author Links:

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge


  1. Yikes! Bummer that this one didn't quite do it for you. =/ I've had this one on my shelf for a while, but have held off to meh reviews. I'm glad the historical aspect of the story was good, though! :)

  2. It's a pity you didn't like this book. I actually like it a lot and exactly for the reason you disliked it for ;)
    I already read the second book and the series still works for me. But not everything works for everyone. And I have read almost every book written by MJ Putney, maybe I just more used to her style :)
    Good luck with your next book.

  3. Ha! I knew what you were up to!

    Moving clouds... He admitted that was his power? I'd never show my face again were I in his shoes. LOL

    Sorry the writing and the magic didn't really work for you on this one. I don't DNF many books, but I probably would have with this one.

  4. Aww, I'm sorry you didn't like it, though it's kind of in keeping with what I've heard of this book so far.

    And it's sad 'cause Mary Jo Putney wrote one of my favorite romances ever but it doesn't seem to translate well to YA.

  5. Lauren: Yeah, it seems like most of the reviews for this one have been a bit meh. But for me it was a bit worse than meh, unfortunately.

    Nimue: Well, that's good! One of the things I love about the book blogging community is that everyone has different opinions. You're right, what works for one person might not work for another. I'm sort of interested in reading another of her books, just to see if her writing style is the same or if I'm less annoyed by it.

    Missie: Hee. I'm sneaky like that. A lot of people in the book are weather mages. It's sort of neat that they can change the weather but I just don't see how they could've fought an army with that skill.

    Alex: Hmm, romances aren't my thing but I am vaguely interested to hear that Mary Jo Putney has written some very popular books prior to this. I just did not respond well to her writing style.

  6. OMG
    I felt the same way.
    It just didn't flow or jive for me.

    Great review!

    And thank you SO much for linking to my review :)

    Happy weekend!

  7. He can move clouds? Can he at least affect the actual weather or does he just randomly move them about wherever he feels like it? I had high hopes for this one because, like you said, magic + time travel should = WIN. Bummer. Thanks for the review though Aylee!

  8. Great review, Aylee! The magic and time-travel aspects definitely pique my curiosity, but I know I'd feel the same as you about the rest of it so I'll probably pass on this one. Thanks for your honesty. :)

  9. I was expecting better from this one too but it ended up just being an okay read for me. What I didn't get was why only the English would have mages. Isn't it entirely possible that the French would have some too? This was never acknowledged if I remember correctly.

  10. This book wasn't anywhere on my radar, and your review isn't doing much to put it there. I find it sad when I book is boring. Thanks for the review!

  11. I struggled with this one, too, unfortunately. I thought it felt surface-heavy and expected a lot more. Great honest review - and kudos for giving it away!

  12. Juju: You're welcome! I'm happy you felt the same way!

    Jenny: By moving the clouds around, he can affect the weather like all weather mages. Useful in some instances, sure, just like the other abilities, but I don't think you could actually fight with such abilities. A definite bummer.

    Jessica: I heard magic and time travel and was like, I'm there! But then it just went wrong.

    Zahida: Excellent point! And I'm sure that's not the only plot hole. Perhaps that gets explained in the sequel or something but I agree that that should have been explained in the first book.

    Sara: I also find it sad. In some ways, I'd rather a book make me angry in some way, get a reaction out of me, rather than just bore me.

    Melissa: Surface-heavy, good term! I expected more from it too and was left disappointed. Oh well!

  13. I'm not sure I like the trend of adult romance authors writing YA. Sometimes it works out great, but other times it just doesn't feel right. Like putting a left shoe on the right foot. I can't put my finger on it, but the elements of YA didn't seem to be here and, to me, it lacked heart.

  14. Bummer to hear the book was disappointing. Ditto that the combo of magic and time travel sounds interesting, but all the problematic points you highlighted has convinced me to skip this one for a bit.

    Thanks for the honest review!


  15. I wasn't a big fan of this one either. The writing definitely left much to be desired,

    Nice honest review, Aylee!

  16. You know, I read this one last year, and I gave it the same rating :( though I don't remember the details, I do know that I disliked the writing just like you. And yes, it DID seem amateurish. Thanks for the honest review, Aylee!

  17. I've read several time travel books that didn't work for me, and yeah - those powers don't sound all that imposing.
    Sorry you didn't like the book but thank you for sharing your honest opinion.

  18. Aw, I'm sorry this one disappointed you! I usually like time travel books but I don't think this one would be for me. Thanks for the review :).

  19. Small: Agreed. It's like they think they know the correct elements involved to make it work and they attempt to include all of them... and then it just doesn't work.

    Lori: It should've worked. I was relying on the magic to keep me interested because histfic only usually doesn't suffice for me.

    Lea: Glad to hear someone agrees with me on the writing. Sometimes I think I must be the only one...

    Hafsah: Another person who thought the writing was amateurish! Which is so surprising considering how experienced this author is. Maybe her writing just didn't translate well from adult to YA.

    Karen: Hmm, now that I think about it, I find that time travel novels are usually hit or miss for me. This didn't work but Waterfall was quite good, I thought. I'm hoping Ruby Red will be too when I get around to reading it.

    Liz: I'm sorry it disappointed too. I'm hoping the next time travel book that I read will make up for my bad experience with this one.