The Sin­gu­lar And Ex­tra­or­di­nary Tale Of Mir­ror And Go­liath

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Sweet enough to cause toothache

Re­lease Date: 4 June

272 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook Au­thor: Ish­belle Bee Pub­lisher: An­gry Robot

How much you’ll like

this book de­pends on your ap­petite for twee, as it’s the lit­er­ary equiv­a­lent of a car­toon fox in a Peter Pan col­lar.

At its heart is a strange but rather lovely fairy­tale, about a girl called Myr­tle whose grand­fa­ther locks her in­side a clock, and who re- emerges as Mir­ror, with the soul of an Egyptian princess, pur­sued by the King of the Un­der­world ( who wants to eat her).

The writ­ing style, not the story, is the real prob­lem with the book. If you’re cre­at­ing mod­ern fairy­tales, you need a good help­ing of re­al­ity to bal­ance the magic. You get very lit­tle of that here. Even when some­thing isn’t mag­i­cal, it never feels real; al­most none of the places that are men­tioned, from the grave­yards to the opera house in Lon­don, are ac­tual places, and there’s no de­cent grasp of the struc­ture of Vic­to­rian so­ci­ety or how peo­ple from dif­fer­ent strata would in­ter­act. The de­scrip­tions be­come te­dious; when­ever a new char­ac­ter is en­coun­tered, you’re told the colour of their eyes or hair, food is al­ways cake or meat ( and fin­gers are al­ways licked), and noth­ing is ever real enough to feel truly en­gag­ing. Whimsy is heaped on whimsy, un­til the whole thing suf­fo­cates un­der the weight of self- con­scious cutesi­ness. Miriam McDon­ald In the book, Dr Cher­ry­tree has pho­tos of souls leav­ing bod­ies. “Ghost pho­to­graphs” were ac­tu­ally a popular Vic­to­rian nov­elty.

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