This young adult novel features a mystery crossed with a time travel story and is, as one character might put it, “a cracking good leg puller.”
When Erica gets a mirror for a gift, she’s not prepared to be transported back to 1913, much less save the life of her new best friend Millie. But Millie’s situation won’t wait. Millie’s Aunt Pitball (aptly named) is determined to rub her out and claim the family fortune while her father is away on business. Erica jumps in to help, using invisibility to her advantage and turning the household upside-down in the process.
The Mystical Mirror is a strong debut with series potential. Author Peter Killick pulls in elements of an English “cosy” mystery with the Victorian household staff and their eccentricities, but the scary elements of the story deliver chills. Aunt Pitball is cruel and violent, and her threats are very realistic. Erica is resourceful and kind-hearted, the perfect foil for such a villain.
The writing is well-plotted, and subplots and character threads are neatly handled. The mechanics are a tad loose and inconsistent (“wring” and “ring her neck” are used interchangeably). Also, many of the supernatural aspects of the story seem too casually tossed together (“Erica also quickly reasoned the ghost could see and hear her because she was a time traveler—there was no other explanation”). Young readers may question such assumptions more than adults would—they like their alternate universes to play fair.
Young readers and adults alike will enjoy this book, though, and root for Erica, a heroine who is easy to like and well-served by this exciting story.
Also available in hardcover and e-book.