Thursday 19 September 2019

The Girl in the Mirror

The Girl in the Mirror by Jenny Blackford, illustrated by Fiona McDonald (Eagle Books) October 2019, PB, RRP $17.99, 153 pp, ISBN 9780648194521

Reviewed by Karen Henriks

Maddy moves to a creepy new house and starts at new school. Newcomers are not welcome and Maddy is given a hard time, so school becomes the last place that she wants to be. Her new home is old and full of secrets from the past. It has a coldness and unexplained presence that creates darkness. Maddy’s bedroom becomes her refuge but there is no real peace even there. In the old mirror in her bedroom Maddy finds her first real friend, Clarissa. There is only one problem: they are 100 years apart in time.

Clarissa lives in the very same house as Maddy. She is the girl in the mirror in Maddy’s bedroom and is from the 1890’s. Clarissa’s younger brother Bertie, who died from whooping cough, haunts the stairs in the house in each time space. The friendship helps both girls deal with frightening situations in the their respective homes. The sinister character in the story is Clarissa’s Aunt Lily who is also a frightening presence in Maddy’s world.

There is a mystery to be solved and lives to be saved and an evil force to be overcome. This time-shifting tale hooks the reader into the mystery with its clever storytelling. The reader wants to join the girls in their quest to remove the evil that lurks in the shadows of both their lives. Maddy tackles the girls at school and makes friends with Gareth but worries time is running out to save her baby brother Cory who has become ill since moving into the house. The only person she can turn to is Clarissa.

Meanwhile, Clarissa’s mother’s health is in serious decline and widowed Aunt Lily seems to control everything and everyone in the house. Her strengthening tonic made from plants in the garden seems to not be working. The two girls must use all their intelligence and work together. But will they succeed? 

This is a gripping middle grade novel that is an original and captivating read.

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