Adapted from: GoodReads
A highly original adventure-fantasy novel; Wilks brings readers through a magical journey full of art, creativity and imagination, pleasing to art aficionados and less experienced art appreciators alike.
Mirrorscape is a Middle Grade-level story; while the book is lengthy, the print is very large, and the sentences are simple and short. The exposition is consistently clear and well explained, Wilks creates a bond between Mel and the reader, as both parties progress through the tale together.
This book is definitely an adventure novel in which the fast-paced plot moves quickly from one exploit to the next, always contributing to a larger quest which begins with Mel all alone finding a box containing a mysterious substance and eventually grows to a full-scale good versus evil clash. The escalation and development of this plot proceeds at a good tempo, keeping the reader hooked on the story.
Moreover, Wilks uses his extensive art knowledge to add authenticity to the artistic side of the story through both content and format! He even includes a glossary of art terms and his own fantastical neologisms at the end of the book, in addition to interspersing neat (but not overly technical, thankfully) art-related descriptions throughout the text, providing a slight elevation to the simplistic writing style.
In my Opinion
Mirrorscape is good for what it is, a creative middle-grade adventure story, however young adult readers are sure to find the book two-dimensional. This action-heavy story provides minimal character development; individuals in the novel are mostly present to perform specific roles, they have little real depth. SPOILER: Wren is just there is provide a link to the stash of iconium, Ludo is the traitor without whom the villains would never have caught up with Mel and his group, etc. I wonder how much more powerful the story could have been with more complex characters.
That being said, the plot is captivating enough that it manages to carry the whole story quite successfully. Wilks’ displays of his artistic knowledge in the book – his delicate balance of artistic realness and imaginative plot is commendable.
What I Learned
The learning experience I take away from this book is in terms of the importance of reading books that match your level. While I enjoyed Mirrorscape for its creative concept, the writing was rather simplistic, I know I would have enjoyed it so much more had I read it as a pre-teen or early teen reader! I also learnt a lot of really cool art terms, such as: chiaroscuro, gesso and, cinnabar.
Also, if you, like me, are curious about Mike Wilks’ artwork, check out some of his masterpieces at Central Illusion.