Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney

Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 304
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads Page

Looking for something to read for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge? This would be a great pick!


From Goodreads: 

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, it could 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.


I had been anticipating this book all the way back to when it had a different cover, so I was very happy when I was asked if I would like a copy for review. I did enjoy this book and I do recommend it, but I did not love it. 

As a character girl, I had to subtract some stars because I just could not connect with the characters. They weren’t bad or annoying, but they never felt alive to me. When I did the WWMCD test (that’s the What Would the Main Character Do? Test) I find these characters did not score high. Unfortunately, these are not characters I will carry with me in my heart for years to come. 

Outside of that, the story itself was actually a lot of fun. I love time travel books, and Dark Mirror did things a little different than what I’m used to. Instead of going back in time, Dark Mirror begins in Regency England and then travels forward in time to WWII. Watching the characters react to all of the new (and now old to us) technological advancements made for a fun twist. 

The story had a light feel to it that I enjoyed, but it was also appropriately serious. The characters all faced decisions between what is easy and what satisfies duty, honor, and sacrifice. I really liked the patriotism and strong female characters that made up the backbone of the book. 

The first half of the book moves along at a good pace, following Tory as she acclimates to her new school. For a while I thought I had been misinformed about the time travel aspects, thinking this was instead a boarding school book. The time travel comes about midway through the book and at that point the pace really picks up. 

I like fast paced books, but I thought things moved almost a little too fast. The characters jumped around from one task to another, accomplishing each one with relative ease. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had connected with the characters. As it was, I followed the events happily enough but I never felt invested. 

The romance was nicely paced and I think will be received well by both fans and detractors of insta-love. The two characters do have an instant connection, but there is a forbidden love aspect that keeps them at a distance. Their connection is never explained, but maybe an explanation will be explored in the sequel. 

Though this book does have a sequel, it works well as a standalone. All of the main events are tied up cleanly, so you need not fear any cliffhangers. There also aren’t a ton of little details to worry about having to remember.

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

This book satisfies the following challenges: 


Want to enter to win a copy of Dark Mirror? Just read the instructions and fill out the form below:

  • You must have a US mailing address (per publisher's request)
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • If an address is not provided, the winner will have 24 hours to reply to my email with their address before a new winner is chosen
  •  I will not keep your information, and only the winner's information will be shared with the publisher
  • The giveaway will close February 25th. The winner will be announced March 1st
I wanted to make this giveaway as easy to enter as possible, so you do not have to be a follower and there aren't any extra entries or hoops to jump through. Though if you want to spread the word (Tweet, blog, etc) out of the kindness of your heart and support for the author, then that would be greatly appreciated! 

Good luck!

 Looking for another time travel historical book? You might like: 
Wildwing by Emily Whitman


  1. I'm glad that there's a new twist in the time travel aspect because most books with time travel have protagonists going into the past. It's too bad that you couldn't connect to the characters though.

  2. This book sounds really good and I really like the cover. :) Great review! Can't wait to read this.

  3. Thanks for the well balanced review! I'm excited for this one. Also, thank you for letting me know about the contest in my comments, unfortunatly I can't enter because I'm in the UK but good luck to everyone who does :)

  4. Looks like a good read. To bad i'm not at US to get part in the contest!

    I will check out the other book too!

  5. Sorry to hear that you couldn't connect with any of the characters. I hate when that happens.

  6. Too bad this wasn't a full success. It sounds like the plot was really fascinating. It just goes to show that you can't have a book that's all plot and no characters or a book that's all characters and no plot.

  7. Ah! I hate not being able to connect with the characters! The more I read the more I find that I know what my preferences are. I love your What Would the MC Do? Test. Hermoine was like the best example!

  8. Although I wish the characters connected better with you, I think the time travel elements will really work for me so I'm still going to read this (especially if I'm lucky enough to win the giveaway).

  9. You always sum up your feelings so nicely. I'm still looking forward to this one, but I hope I can connect more with the characters or I won't enjoy it much either. Congratulations on your first giveaway! I'm in!

  10. Oh, I'm sorry about the characters, I hate when that happens.

    I hadn't heard about the character test, but it's awesome. :D *nods*

  11. Another great review! Connection with characters are important to me so I am not sure if I am going to read this. Thanks for the heads up!

  12. A Canadian Girl, I did enjoy that aspect of the time travel. It was unique, I thought. It was also fun because while it was the future for the characters, it was still the past for us.

    The Vintage Bookworm, I hope you enjoy it! I agree, the cover is very nice. It suits the book extremely well.

    Stephanie, You’re welcome! I’m so sorry I didn’t check your country! Aw, that’s like me teasing you. :(

    Yiota, I hope you enjoy them and are able to find copies!

    Nina, Thanks, I was very disappointed about that. I probably will still read the sequel. Maybe I’ll connect with the characters better then.

    Alison, The plot was fun and different. You’re absolutely right though, plot and characters both need to be strong. Hopefully other readers will connect with the characters better than I did.

  13. Lazy Girl, Me too! LOL, I’m glad you liked my test! I was wondering if it would make sense :P I think I can picture what Hermione would do in pretty much any situations. She’s so well developed and real to me. I’m glad you like the hearts! I’m terrible with decorations. I always leave them up long after the holiday has passed because they make me smile :)

    Bookworm, I hope you enjoy the book! I think characters are so subjective, so really please do take my issues with them with a grain of salt.

    Logan, Aw, thank you :) I hope you are able to connect with the characters well too. I thought of you when I was reading this book because I know you like time travel. The fact that they’re going into what is the future to them made me think of your Silly Sunday post about George Washington and wondering what he would think of things like planes and cars. :P

    Alex, You haven’t heard of the character test before because I made it up! It’s my highly unscientific test :P

    Nic, Thank you! I would suggest giving it a try if you think the plot sounds like something you would enjoy. Characters are so subjective, so what didn’t work for me might not be a problem for you at all.

  14. I don't think, based on your review and the height of my two piles of TBR books that I'm going to put this one on my list. Life is too short to read mediocre books or books you can't finish. Hopefully there aren't any of those in my TBR piles! I rely on you and a few other select reviewers to weed out the mediocre! Thanks for the review.


  15. I really liked your test idea! What a great way to test the strength of your characters! This book seems interesting to me and I'd like to give it a shot.

  16. Love your WWMCD test! Great way to test whether the MC is fully developed.

    I think I still might like to read this one even if you didn't love it. It sounds like an interesting twist on a time travel story!

  17. Aw, I'm sad that you didn't LOVE it... but great review nonetheless. I'm still looking forward to reading this one. Though thanks in advance for the sequel warning. I hate it when I'm not aware that a book is part of a series.

  18. Great review -- I totally agree. I loved the historical elements, but the characters fell a little flat. It's still a fun read though =D

  19. Heather, Well, I would never want to talk you out of reading a book, but I didn’t love this one enough to push it. Life really is too short to spend time on books that aren’t doing it for you. I’m glad I can help you with that :)

    Book Geek, Thanks! I hope you enjoy the book.

    Aylee, Thanks! I think if you liked Wildwing, then you’ll probably like this one. There’s more magic in this book though. I hope you like it!

    Cialina, Me too. I was really hoping to absolutely love it. I hope you do love it :) You’re welcome about the sequel warning. I hate it when I’m surprised by a book I thought was a standalone.

    Casey, Thanks! Yup, I would have liked it a lot more if the characters had more life to them.

  20. Small-

    You didn't talk me out of reading it. You just didn't talk me into reading it. Big difference. If I'd been considering it your review might have swayed me, though if I had really wanted to read it, I would have. However, since this wasn't even on my radar, I'm not wasting my time because I don't like flat characters. I like to know them really well. Besides, there are just too many out there for me to read! That's why I rely on you to read the ones I might not have heard of, you've got an eclectic mix not just the ones that are the hits. I like that.


  21. :) Whew. I use reviews the same way.


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