Mirrors and magic collide in this third volume of a lyrical fantasy quartet.
Canterstock College isn’t much of a wizarding school anymore, but Tamrin is still furious when she is unjustly expelled; resentful and determined, she follows the only clue to her past. Meanwhile, the wizard apprentice Sam feels compelled to seek out the young girl he barely knows. They accumulate an odd assortment of allies on their separate journeys to a horrific confrontation with the twisted wizard Ash, now on the verge of escape. The only barrier to Ash’s scheme to warp magic itself into her own monstrous reflection is the strange bond Tam and Sam share….Despite the heightened external stakes, the gruesome encounters with Ash and her loathsome minions, the real impetus behind the story is each character’s need to answer the leitmotif inquiry: “What am I?” Rich, sensuous prose, dense with potent metaphors and allusions, channels a narrative that loops around itself, requiring many passages to be read more than once to get their full impact; indeed, the final battle is described so elliptically as to be almost opaque (and unfortunately anticlimactic). Some characters and plot points are left dangling, leaving readers to wait for the final volume for definitive resolution.
Nevertheless, with its gorgeous language and thoughtful themes, this is a book to be savored rather than devoured. (Fantasy. 10-16)