by Emma Newman
Plot Summary:Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?
Review:This story weaves together three plot threads. It starts with the mundane (human) Sam who is witness to something he should never have seen, next is Cathy who is from the mirror world and wants to leave behind the restraining Victorian values that world embraces, and then there is the mystery that Max, as Arbiter, must investigate because someone is wreaking havoc among the people who are in charge of policing the people in the mirror world. The world-building is ambitious and detailed, and while I really enjoyed the ideas it set forth (especially the Victorian world that must be awfully restrictive when compared to the freedoms of today) I found the story frequently confusing, and it was only in the last third of the book, when Cathy was having a conversation with someone just as clueless as I was, that things started to become clearer. I wish there had been more explanation in the beginning.
I also had a problem with how the story brings together the lives of the three main characters. Points of view frequently shifted, and although I thought it was clever how some of the action all illuminated each other, often the pace of the story slowed and had to ramp up again. It made it even more difficult to understand what was going on when I was switched to new characters. I think this story would have benefited from a more straightforward plot devleopment.
But I did actually enjoy this story. When the puzzle fitted together, I thought the story was pretty interesting and there were some really fun, eccentric characters that I wanted to see more of. Cathy's grumpiness was a little too much sometimes for me, but it was explained well and made sense for the position she was put in. It would have been much fun to see more of the odd pairings of Cathy, Sam, Max, and the Sorcerer - like if they had to work together more - which is why (in addition to the cliffhanger) I am interested in checking out the next book in this series.
I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.