The Water Mirror
Kai Meyer’s inventive fantasy The Water Mirror takes place in Venice in the 1890s in an alternative world where the Egyptian empire has conquered the whole world except for Venice, which has been under siege for more than thirty years. Only a being called the Flowing Queen has protected Venice. Fourteen-year-old Merle, an orphan who has a mysterious link to the Flowing Queen, is apprenticed to Arcimboldo, a maker of magic mirrors, along with her friend Junipa, who is blind. The boys apprenticed to Umberto the weaver, Arcimboldo’s rival, often cross the canal to play tricks, but Merle soon makes friends with one of them, Serafin, who used to be a master thief. One night, Merle and Serafin overhear a plot by three city councilors to betray Venice to the Egyptians. The traitors have captured the essence of the Flowing Queen in a crystal vial. After taking the vial from them, Merle and Serafin go on a quest to save their city.
This is a wonderful book, and I can only admire the author’s imagination. Meyer’s Venice is inhabited by such beings as mermaids, flying stone lions, and, towards the end, a frightening demon. Merle has a mirror made of water; she can put her arm inside and it will not get wet. These are only a few of the author’s wonderful inventions. The book is the first in a trilogy, so do not expect everything to be resolved at the end. I am looking forward to the next volume. Ages 12 and up.