Going to change it up a bit with reviews today, I’ll be reviewing the whole trilogy today and I’m grabbing it from the mountain of backlist reviews I’ve been meaning to write lol
Book 1: The Water Mirror
In Venice, magic is not unusual. Merle is apprenticed to a magic mirror maker, and Serafin — a boy who was once a master thief — works for a weaver of magic cloth. Merle and Serafin are aided by a woman who used to be a mermaid, the mermaids live in the canals of the city — beautiful creatures with hideous mouths that split their faces from ear to ear — and to the guards who patrol the streets on living stone lions. Merle herself possesses something magical: a mirror whose surface is water. She can reach her whole arm into it and never get wet.But Venice is under siege by the Egyptian Empire; its terrifying mummy warriors and flying sunbarks are waiting to strike. All that protects the Venetians is the Flowing Queen.
Nobody knows who or what she is — only that her power flows through the canals and keeps the Egyptians at bay.When Merle and Serafin overhear a plot to capture the Flowing Queen, they are catapulted into desperate danger. They must do everything they can to rescue the Queen and save the city — even if it means getting help from the Ancient Traitor himself.Kai Meyer’s bold, original fantasy conjures up a land of magic and menace as Merle and Serafin begin a journey to unimagined realms in the extraordinary world of Dark Reflections.
First off, I read this in 2006, and you all know I’m an old dinosaur, so, we’ll see how this goes.
I do know for sure that I remembered more of this than you would think because it was just that unique and creative. I remember really loving it, and so, I’m going to try my best to explain why I loved it…those 14 years ago…Shhh my mortality is already making me feel old.
In Venice, in an alternate universe, there’s an apprentice Merle, a once master thief Serafin, and a once mermaid.
Another thing I loved, the mermaids are not just simply beautiful women with the typical fishtail, they have hideous large mouths, serrated teeth, and an eerie quality to them!
Venice is in danger, in this alternate universe Egypt is a conqueror of lands and the Pharaoh is marching on Venice, one of the last to hold against it. And the only reason they’ve been able to stand against Egypt is that they’re protected by The Flowing Queen who no one has seen and no one is sure exactly what she is.
The ending was definitely intriguing but obviously, I was able to wait 14 years between books 1 and 2.
I loved Merle as an MC and Serafin as well, and I remember really enjoying the pacing and the flow of the story. It was definitely a fun MG read, even for an older teen like I was at the time.
On that note, we’ll give it 4/5 cups of coffee and travel on to book 2 which I read this year.
Book 2: The Stone Light
Evil forces have invaded Venice – the city that Merle and Serafin call home. Luckily, the two friends hold secrets that just might stop the pharaoh from destroying their ancient city.
Merle has within her spirit of the Flowing Queen, a mysterious legendary force who serves as her guide. Indeed, the Queen’s voice has led Merle to Vermithrax, a winged stone lion. And together they are on a mission to Hell to enlist help from Lord Light.
Meanwhile, Serafin remains in Venice. He’s joined a group of rebel boys who are plotting to assassinate the pharaoh. But can a group so small really kill the biggest, most powerful man on earth?
Though they follow separate courses, Merle and Serafin will both encounter unexpected betrayals and startling revelations. And together they learn that evil takes many shapes in the world of Dark Reflections.
Popping into book two, it did take me a few pages to remember what in the world happened in book one, but, the author did a really good job of smoothly moving from the end of book one and into book two, so it only took me about a chapter to have my memory jogged.
The writing style remains consistent, the pacing in this was a bit slower in my mind than the first book, but, still, there was a purpose and a point to head toward so it didn’t feel too slow if that makes sense.
Merle and the Flowing Queen are joined, they are more than just allies and they have left Venice, leaving it to the Pharaoh as they try to find a way to save it without the Flowing Queen being there with the aid of the stone lion Vermathrix [who is my fave character].
Serafin has stayed behind, he’s in Venice trying to find his own answers and keep up whatever rebellion he can with other boys. They will not bend to the Pharaoh but can they defeat him?
The two may be on separate paths but they have a joint goal even with all the distance between them.
Serafin also has met someone who may be more connected to Merle than anyone could have imagined.
I loved the expanding worldbuilding in this and the buildup that is growing for the finale!
4/5 cups of coffee and onto book 3!!
Book 3: The Glass Word
When they emerge from Hell, Merle, her friend Junipa who has mirrors for eyes, and Vermithrax the flying stone lion find themselves in Egypt. Of course the Flowing Queen is with them as well, since Merle swallowed her back in Venice. There is something very wrong in Egypt–it is freezing cold, and everything is covered in snow. Winter is here, looking for his lost love, Summer. And another creature is here as well–Seth, the highest of the Horus priests. Betrayed by the pharaoh and his sphinx henchmen, Seth is seeking revenge. Together they travel to the Iron Eye, the vast fortress of the sphinxes.But what does the Flowing Queen want Merle to do there?
Meanwhile Serafin, the master thief, the beautiful sphinx Lalapeya, and Eft, the mermaid, are also headed for Egypt. They are traveling underwater, in a submarine piloted by pirates. Serafin is not sure what they can do to the fight the pharaoh, but he knows surrender is not an option. Egypt has captured and enslaved his beloved Venice, and he and the others must fight the empire no matter what the cost. But the final battle will not be one that Serafin has even imagined–and the cost will be high indeed.
And here we are! The end of a trilogy, everything has been building up to this moment!
Serafin and the rebel boys found an ally in the beautiful sphinx Lalapeya who had been disguising herself, Merle has found her friend Junipa and escaped from Hell, and the ‘gang’ has now rejoined in Egypt.
This Egypt though is cold and freezing, snow and ice dominate it, and while in Hell Merle had met someone who claimed to be Winter, searching for his love, Summer.
If what the being claimed was true, then does that mean he’s in Egypt and does that mean Summer is there as well?
There is a lot of collusion and coverups revealed from book two and even book one in this, we learn more about the sphinxes and more lore is thrown at us.
This time between this book and book 2, it does get a little confusing to put the worldbuilding together, it seems disjointed, there’s hell, sphinxes, flowing queens, and more, and it all seems to be tossed in together. Despite this, I still found it fascinating which is the reason for not lowering the rating of book 2 or this book.
Merle has literally been to hell and back but there’s still a long hard road ahead of her, and the choices that she and the others have to make do not get any easier.
The time to save not only Venice but the world is running out, and only one thing can stop those behind such machinations.
But who will make such a grand sacrifice?
Oh boy! This will definitely be for older middle grade considering the ending, the ultimate sacrifice though is not made in vain. And the one to pay it does so willingly. It is extremely sad but satisfying and it felt real, like such ‘powers at be’ really needed a large sacrifice, it wouldn’t have felt as true if they could have fixed this easily.
Anyway, I’ll leave it at that and say if you’re an MG fan or have an MG reader in your home, this may be a good trilogy to pick up, the middle book is certainly the most lacking and it does get dark, but, I thought it was a worthwhile read.
4/5 cups of coffee from me on this ending and on the trilogy in general!