When Juliette has a domestic servant beaten for pursuing a young man above her station, she finds herself cursed by a witch to live in a world behind her own mirror. She is unable to leave except on the first night of a full moon.
Juliette is forced to seek what food and shelter the new world provides with the help of a unicorn, a man who is half bear, and a centaur. Together they struggle to survive against lions, wolves, and the challenges of watching their friends live and die through the back of the mirror, as their own world moves on without them.
Reflections begins in Regency era London, and ends in Clover Springs, California, an all but abandoned Gold Rush town.
OK, I’ll be fair – the unicorn on the cover had me hooked from the first time I saw it. It took me a while to actually give in, and read it, because I knew that Jena tended to write more in the romance genre than fantasy. I won this book, and finally had no reason NOT to read it. So, now that I’ve had my honest disclosure, let’s get on with the review!
Reflections has two worlds that develop in parallel. Depending on your point of view, one of the worlds never stops developing, because you’re dealing with time travel, while the other world seems to stand still. This isn’t exactly the case. To understand fully, you will have to read the book. Even so, both worlds are able to seep into your awareness, and bones, and thoughts – both the magical and the mundane. Rich, vibrant, and wonderfully well done are the words that come to mind.
Though the worlds play an important part of the story, it’s really the characters who carry the plot forward. They, more than the encounters, are what bring the worlds to life. It doesn’t matter if it is in the Regency era of London, or the modern America, or on the other side of the mirror, the characters are what bring this story to life. Each of the main characters are quickly, and carefully sketched in. The main characters receive the first focus, as it proper, and then the support cast is filled in until you have a cast of vibrant people. Throughout the process, each of the cast members shows his, or her, flaws and strengths, hopes and fears. This makes for a heady brew that carries you through to the unexpected, yet anticipated ending.
The pace of the tale is well done. It lets you pause if you wish to examine the individual threads that run through the tapestry, but it also refuses to let you stand still. It lures you on to discover new places, people, or aspects of the known characters. The transition between the two worlds, or even through time is handled smoothly – though it is not placid. The little irregularities in the weaving are part of what gives this tale it’s charm. (No, these are not flaws, I don’t think Jena knows how to send out a book that has flaws in it. They’re just wonderful quirks and kinks in the plot that let you stub your reading toes for a laugh.)
Definitely a wonderful five out of five star effort, and one I’d recommend to any fantasy, romance, or avid reader.
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