The Jewel and the Key
Addie MacNeal loves the theater. The only person who might understand is her best friend, Whaley, but he’s busy enlisting in a war she doesn’t agree with. After losing a prime role in the high school production of Peer Gynt, she takes solace in a trunk of old costumes and props that belonged to her landlady’s great-aunt, a well-known stage director. But when she puts on one of the antique dresses and looks into an engraved silver mirror, something strange happens. She’s suddenly surrounded by people in similar clothes, talking about a different war with a kaiser and a world in which Model Ts and jazz music are the latest thing. Addie scarcely notices once she’s invited to join a professional theater company. Reg, a handsome young actor, captures her attention, but he’s looking to enlist too and go over to the trenches of World War One. With the help of her magical mirror, Addie must keep both boys – one in her own time and one in 1917 – safe from war.
Addie is painted as a very perceptive, intelligent girl, yet it took her an astonishingly long time to realize the vintage mirror that makes her feel dizzy and see people in inexplicably old-fashioned clothing just might be a time-traveling mirror. More than a hundred and thirty pages. Not only did I have the urge to smack her with a history book, but this undermined her character. Later in the book, when everyone else depended on her to pull off the clever rescue, I had my doubts.
This was my biggest complaint in an otherwise well-researched teen romance. Once Addie figured out what was going on and began falling in love, the story flew, and Spiegler did an admirable job of tying together all the threads in the end.