Hello humans! many of you may remember my review of the first book in this series from Jeff Wheeler Storm Glass. I was utterly besotted with his descriptions of floating villas and the rags to riches story he painted. I was delighted to be approved to read and review the sequel Mirror Gate as well and here we are!
Though relations between Princess Seraphin Fitzempress and her father have been strained, Sera’s royal position has remained unchallenged. Filled with self-doubt, she struggles to grasp the Mysteries—her greatest trial yet.
An education in the enigmatic magic is a necessary one, should Sera plan to rise in her station and invoke her powers during war. But the emperor’s death now leaves both Sera and her ambitious father eligible for the throne—a contest the prince regent intends to win. Even if it means an alliance with a rival empire.
Sera’s hope lies in Cettie, a waif raised in the world below, whose life has intertwined with Sera’s in the most unexpected ways. The Mysteries come easily to Cettie, and her studies have begun to yield new insight into her growing powers. But those same powers put Cettie in the path of those who would destroy her.
Now as the threat of war ignites and an insidious sickness spreads throughout the kingdom, Sera and Cettie will need to gather their courage and fight for each other’s lives…and for the future of their endangered world.
Was there a time jump as I predicted? Why yes there was! It wasn’t quite so dramatic as some of the jumps in the Kingfountain series but you do feel that things have progressed. I was actually quite grateful for the jump as it feels a little like ‘fast forwarding’ through the bits that everyone could have predicted. We knew that Cettie would be great with the Mysteries and we knew that Sera and Cettie would be friends and reading it would have been nice, but not hugely engaging.
So we are dropped back into the setting after some years have passed and Cettie and Sera are both getting ready to leave school and enter the big wide world. For both girls, this is hugely significant but it felt a lot more intense from Sera’s perspective as for her, entering the world means vying for control of the entire kingdom. Cettie certainly has her share of problems and trepidation about entering the world, but it isn’t quite the same.
I was surprised by how much I still enjoyed both of these characters. Usually, with dual POV I end up rooting for one character and getting bored in the other chapters. In this case, I found them both equally engaging and I just wanted them both to be ok.
Another thing I was expecting from this sequel was to delve a little more into how the Mysteries work. That does happen to some extent, it isn’t a magic system that gives you a huge amount of detail, there’s no handy instruction manual anywhere, but it does feel like less of a ‘we don’t want to explain this right now’ than in the first book.
There is more politics, more whispering behind hands, more danger, more excitement and more oomph behind this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Storm Glass but I think that by moving away from the ‘poor Cettie isn’t she privileged to be brought into our society’ narrative (it’s still there but it ceases to be the focus) these two characters were really able to reach a higher potential.
I am left feeling exceedingly excited for book three, if Kingfountain is anything to go by, we know that Jeff Wheeler can end a trilogy well. I’m excited to see what happens.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read any of Jeff Wheeler’s books? Let me know in the comments below!