Fantasy Review: Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain

Fantasy Book Review

Mirror Sight
Author: Kristen Britain
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Genres: Epic Fantasy
ShelvesFemale-authored, Female-fronted

When I posted by review of Blackveil, I was warned that the next one was a complete change of gears. In fact, I had one reader suggest that I skip it entirely, and move straight to Firebrand. Having read – and enjoyed – Mirror Sight, I can see why some readers where thrown by what Kristen Britain did, and can understand why they might have been unsettled by the change of setting and the shift in genre.

The story opens two centuries after the fall of Sacoridia, in a Victorian era dystopia ruled over by the Emperor of the Serpentine Empire. It’s a dark, dirty, industrialized world, one where magic is nearly exhausted, and where creepy mechanical overseers monitor rebellious thoughts, words, and actions.

What immediately caught my interest was the archaeological excavations of the Sacoridia that Karigan called home. There are petty treasure hunters looking for historical artifacts to sell on the black market, and big-scale digs looking to recover evidence of magic and magical devices. Karigan literally comes to this world because of tomb raiding, waking up inside a stone sarcophagus, and then coming under the care of one of the era’s most prominent archaeologists.

It’s not just a setting, though, it’s also a story. Britain tells a story of oppression, paranoia, resistance, and rebellion, exploring the conflict between genders, classes, families, and eras. It’s a slow-moving story, and one in which Karigan spends considerable time laid up and drugged, but it’s fascinating to see the consequences of having lost the war against Mornhavon. Denied her magic, no longer a Green Rider, and isolated from friends and allies, she is more human here than ever before – and that vulnerability opens up some interesting story threads, including a pivotal romance. While that aspect seems to have some readers groaning and rolling their eyes, I thought the romance worked, and the echoes of it in the final chapters are powerful.

This volume also reveals what happened to Lord Amberhill, and his ties to this dark future are interesting. I’m not entirely sure I liked his role, and I’m still not sure whether Britain had an arc defined for him or whether she’s winging it, but it makes for an interesting read.

Mirror Sight is very much a solo Karigan adventure, more urban fantasy than epic fantasy, but I enjoyed the approach and thought it made for an interesting tale.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀