Melkin Womper is thrilled to escape his dull future as a village weaver and develop his artis-tic talent when he's apprenticed to Ambrosius Blenk, one of Vlam's most famous masters. Mel is especially excited by the colors that he'll be able to use, since color is a very expensive Pleasure, strictly controlled by the sinister Fifth Mystery.
Mel can't wait to enjoy the wonders of the grand city and begin his important work for Blenk. Instead, his dreams are quickly crushed by the reality of days filled with unimportant tasks and bullying by the other apprentices.
But when Mel and his new friends, Ludo and Wren, inadvertently stumble into a battle between the Fifth Mystery and the Rainbow Rebellion, an underground band fighting to make Pleasures affordable for all, the trio must step through Blenk's paintings into the Mirrorscape. In this alternative world, the friends encounter monsters, mazes, talking houses, angels, and more.
Hugely original and deeply compelling, Mirrorscape is a thrilling adventure filled with the beautiful and the bizarre, the fantastical and the frightening. Enter into an incredibly visual, secret world, where the ultimate weapons are pigment, a paintbrush, and the power of imagination.
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Dragons, Monsters, & Beasts...OH MY!
- Claire Wofford
Concept is not enough to carry a story
The concept behind this book is excellent--I think we can all appreciate the idea of entering a painting the way Mary Poppins entered the chalk drawing and Alice entered the mirror. We also like the idea of noble individuals fighting against a corrupt government. That said, as I listened, I found myself thinking that the writer was not an expert storyteller and that he had not spent much time with his presumed target audience (11-13). Although I finished it less than two weeks ago, I had to search my mind to remember the names of the main characters because they did not stick with me as real people but as "types" put in motion to be part of a concept-driven plot. I always prefer a character-driven story, but even if plot were the priority, I admit to feeling a little regretful that I used my monthly credit for this one. The villains were completely two-dimensional-- cruel, stupid, selfish and unprincipled--cartoon villains. The main character, Mel, came up with solutions far too easily. His humble beginnings and good heart were not sufficient to prepare him to save the day when experienced adults ran out of ideas. It was just too contrived for me, especially a lot of the dialog. Children are more sophisticated than we sometimes give them credit for. After about age seven or eight, they want more than a new take on "once upon a time." They want to read about people they can admire or despise for good reasons. No matter how interesting a concept or how complex a plot, they want to see real people, not caricatures or generic child types--where have we seen the brave boy, the talented girl, and the hapless best friend before? Hmm. And there is no Dumbledore or Lupin or McGonagal for any of them to confide in or turn to in this story. The adults move in a circle apart from the children, not offering them much in the way of love, understanding, or support-- but the children are almost entirely motivated by the desire to rescue or protect the adults in their lives. I just don't buy that.
I had never heard of Mike Wilks before I read this, and I did look at his other works. I suspect the shorter picture books are more successful.
Paul English does a good job of voicing characters and adding energy to the text.
I did see it through to the end, but if I had been consulted as editor, there is much I would have left out, much I would have changed.
- English teacher