Monday, October 17, 2005

The Water Mirror

Well, the wait is over. This weekend I got my hands on a copy of The Water Mirror.

Kai Meyer's The Water Mirror is one of the most interesting middle-grade fantasies I've ever read. Thanks goes to Margaret K. McElderry Books for publishing this gem. Special appreciation is due as well to Elizabeth D. Crawford who translated the novel from German beautifully.

The Water Mirror begins as Merle, 14, and Junipa, 13, are traveling to the home and workshop of Arcimboldo, creator of magical mirrors. Merle and Junipa are orphans and apprenticed to the mirror-maker. Arcimboldo's house sits on the Canal of the Expelled in a Venice under siege at the hands of the Egyptian Empire. Venice is nearly abandoned, regal homes have been stripped for their wood, and the city is a dark, empty, and threatening force.

The only hope left for the Venetians is The Flowing Queen, a godlike creature or force who has protected them from an Egyptian assault. But there are traitors in their midst and Merle becomes embroiled in a battle for the city, escaping with the Flowing Queen and a flying obsidian lion.

The Water Mirror is the first in a series and that's a good thing as it doesn't really have an ending. In addition, there are so many elements in the story I can't wait to read more about. What happens to Junipa, Merle's friend who Arcimboldo cures of blindness by fashioning for her mirror eyes? What role do the magical mirrors play in this world? What happens to the other apprentices on the Canal of the Expelled, including Serafin, an apprentice for the only other craftsman on the canal and who inadvertently involves Merle in her fight for the city?

I can't wait to find out what will happen to Merle, her friends, and Venice. (By the way, the German fascination for Venice is an intriguing cultural phenomenon.)