Book Review: The Mirror, by Marlys Millhiser

The Mirror, by Marlys Millhiser

Really surprised a movie was never made on this interesting fantasy “time travel” story. Similar to the 1980 film Somewhere in Time, you don’t need a time machine to get a taste of the past. Unfortunately for Shay and Brandy, they get more than a taste!

This is a story of two young women from the same family but separated by several decades of American “progress.”

Shay is a free-spirited girl, whose ideas of sex and marriage would make any Victorian-era woman frump and fuss – and musical tastes as the Bee Gees might do that too.  🙂


The story is actually the story of an Oriental mirror. Of unknown origin, it travels from one place to another, enticing its victims and makes itself known through the use of electricity and it’s many-fingered array along the edges of a very tall mirror. It hums and crackles with anticipation, pulling the viewer in to either (a) drive them insane to insanity or (b) switch them with others decades in the past or future.

The author builds us up with a brief history of the mirror and also a major history of a family with its insanities, dysfunctionalism and crazy characters in the West – Colorado!

 Plots and Points:

Shay is great as she tries to adapt to the past, wishing in some ways she paid better attention to her family history and American history as she confronts the Great Depression, the birth of twins and her own mother (yikes!) and the dawn of World War II (when was Pearl Harbor – December 11th or 7th? Oops).

Most of the book revolves around Shay’s decisions: Will she mess up family history? What would Brandy do? Should she marry the man John McCabe wants her to marry? But Strock does not have the eyes that she has – or had. What of Rachael, her mother?

Later in the book we get to know Rachael – a mother who loves her family’s past, struggles with a bad marriage, and now her mother just died in front of the wedding mirror. And now Shay is not herself. When Rachael discovers the truth, she goes a bit bonkers.

However, the author does not develop this part of the story very much. Kinda drops Rachael as a main character and that’s just too bad. More could have been done there.

The Brandy story is not as interesting – I think because we’re living where she’s living and can understand a person from 1900 not understanding disco or women’s’ rights or liberation. Not that interesting. Shay’s confrontation with her family’s past could lead to some unpleasant changes in her own future, so that adds tension and suspense to the plot.

Meanwhile the Mirror continues to travel, affecting others through insanity and death. The horror aspect is not played up much – more of a historical fiction/fantasy story than a horror one.

 Bottom Line:

Decent story, rolls along well with the Brandy/Shay/Rachael characters and how the Mirror affects them. Some dropped balls with the old man & his granddaughter, Rachael’s fate and a rushed ending with her future husband Marek. Overall, recommended!


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