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Monday, March 15, 2010

"Mirrorscape" by Milk Wilks (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)


Order Mirrorscape from Amazon here

Introduction: When I heard about a YA fantasy book that was combining the various fantasy elements with the thought that there are paintings in the world that are used as a secret portal, I knew I wanted to see what this was about.

Overview: Melkin Womper is just like any young child growing up. Although he always envisioned a life as a painter, his family isn't wealthy and to be able to send him to be an apprentice in the big city would run the family into the ground. Instead, Mel is being primed to carry on the family business. Secretly Mel has been working on paintings and drawings behind his family's back. He uses various books and stories to recreate the images into drawings, in his spare time.

One afternoon a very strange giant comes to the small town and asks to see Mel's paintings. In a chance of a lifetime, Mel is offered an apprenticeship with the master painter himself.

While in the big city and serving his apprenticeship, Mel and his new friends at the academy, Ludo and Wren, uncover a secret that is better left hidden. The three young children one evening witness the master painter preform some strange gestures in front of his painting and then magically disappear. Upon closer inspection the three of them realize that the master painter hasn't disappeared, but instead is traveling inside the painting that he created. They can see him moving about the picture's landscape as thought it is another world.

Little do Mel, Ludo, and Wren realize that what they have uncovered is the secret to entering Mirrorscape. Mirrorscape is a mysterious land beyond the painting where the imagination's potential is unlimited. Knowing this secret will pull these three into a power struggle that is centuries old and potentially life threatening for each of them.

Format: Mirrorscape is a YA fantasy, that stands at 336 pages. It is the first book of a trilogy. It was published October 13, 2009 by EgmontUSA.

Analysis: Mirrorscape is probably one of the most creative, imaginative YA fantasy books that I have read in a while, but that's not to say it's without it's problems.

The biggest draw of Mirrorscape is the imagination and creative environment that has been developed. There was so much imagination involved in developing the whole imagery that it really comes through in the book. That is really the most attractive thing about this book.

The land of Mirrorscape is this whole world that is beyond the painting. Every picture that has ever been created or painted by a master painter is essential linked through Mirrorscape. The way that Mike Wilks described every picture and the unique qualities of every "land" of Mirrorscape is richly imaginative and as stated is probably the best quality of the book.

The characters of Mirrorscape are a bit mixed as far as one sidedness and being multi-dimensional. At times it would appear that the characters would just start to grow and then all of a sudden it felt as though the characters would revert to old ways and be a bit predictable. I particularly found this habit with Wren and Ludo. They were a bit one sided, and didn't really appear to grow throughout the book. This was a bit frustrating as Mel seemed to grow and advance yet his supporting character cast never grew with him.

There are potential issues with Mirrorscape that prevented my enjoyment of the book.

The first issue was with the way that Mike Wilks explained various elements of the book. There were huge amount of what could only be described as information dumping. The explanations of the lands, while creative and entertaining, were overly long and a bit dry. This happened so often throughout the book that these huge areas of explanations were overwhelming and a bit confusing at times.

Along with the sections of information dumping, it at times felt as if Wilks' actual explanations were a bit confusing. There were several occasions that I found myself constantly flipping back pages because of the confusion or rereading section because I couldn't follow what was going on. It's very rare when I can't figure out what is going on with a book, and this happened a lot during this book.

The second issue I had was with the plot. I understand that Mirrorscape is a land that is based upon imagination. So essentially objects and such can appear by just thinking things through. However it almost felt as if every time there was an issue in Mirrorscape things just popped up to easily. The characters would be trapped in a place that there's no way out and 4 seconds later the solution to the problem would appear out of no where and they are out of the trapped area. Or the characters would run out of a specific ingredient or mixture and poof it's there in a scarf or a book.

Overall Mirrorscape brings about a mixture of experiences for myself. I really enjoyed the imagery and creativity involved with this story but there were plot elements and writing styles that really blocked my total enjoyment. I would probably read the second book in the trilogy Mirrorstorm when it becomes available as I didn't have a totally bad experience but this second book will really be a deciding factor with this trilogy.


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