Title: Mirror Image
Authors: Michael Scott & Melanie Ruth Rose
Date of Publication: 23rd August, 2016
Page Count: 352 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
A mirror that feeds on human souls wreaks destruction on those around it in this new novel from internationally bestselling author Michael Scott and Melanie Ruth Rose. In an auction house in London, there is a mirror no one will buy. Standing seven feet tall and reaching four feet across, its size makes it unusual. Its horrific powers make it extraordinary. For centuries, the mirror has fed off of the lives of humans, giving them agonizing deaths and sucking their souls into its hellish world.
When Jonathan Frazer, the wealthy owner of a furniture and antiques shop in Los Angeles, buys the mirror at an auction, he believes he is getting the bargain of a lifetime. With its age and size, it is easily worth eight times what he paid for it. At this point, the mirror has sat dormant for years. But within days of Jonathan’s purchase, the deaths begin again. One employee is crushed when the mirror falls on top of him. A few days later, the corpse of another is found in front of the mirror, brutally stabbed. A third is burned beyond all recognition. All the while, an enormous man with a scarred face is following Jonathan, demanding that he give him the mirror and killing any police officer that gets in his way.
The police are becoming desperate. As the death toll rises, Jonathan himself becomes a suspect. He knows there is something wrong with the mirror. He knows it’s dangerous. But he cannot bring himself to get rid of it. Everyday he becomes more captivated by the mirror.
For the mirror is awakening, and its powers are resurfacing.
I need to preface this by saying that I am definitely not unbiased – Oculus is one of my favorite horror movies and pretty much the main impetus behind me requesting this ARC. My expectations were high, and happy days, they were actually met!
This story provided what I enjoy most in horror – characters you’re invested in PLUS lots of lambs to the slaughter. I think most fans of the genre will understand when I say that there were a few very satisfying death scenes, as it’s very cathartic to see an unpleasant person get their comeuppance! But a book with a ton of deaths isn’t as engaging to me if there’s nobody to root for, and Mirror Image successfully had me siding with Jonathon and later, his daughter, Manny. They were very sympathetic and I wanted them to emerge triumphant in withstanding the evil that Jonathon had unwittingly invited into their lives.
But of course, bad things happen to good people – both characters fell susceptible to the mirror’s macabre influence, one to a greater and darker extent to the other, and I was stunned to see how this character arc unfolded to its bloody end. I thought I had both Jonathon and Manny’s roles pegged, I’d mentally filed them in the appropriate pigeon-holes, but my supposed genre-savviness let me down and I was blindsided with how the action progressed! I do so enjoy when an author sets me up to think they’re playing out the stereotypes as per usual and then swerves unexpectedly!
Another aspect that pleased me was the police investigation. I saw the reference to cops in the blurb, but I didn’t realize they were going to be so prominent in the story – I love when law enforcement is stuck investigating spooky shenanigans they can’t explain and the bewildered frustration these characters feel when the bodies keep mounting up and no rational explanation. That enhanced the enjoyment factor for me. ^_^ It’s one thing to have the hapless everyman caught up with dark spirits beyond their control, but I find it adds something extra to have the authorities breathing down their necks and adding to the stress as they seek to impose law and order on a situation created by an ancient evil force. It makes me cackle to myself as I breathlessly wait for them to run headfirst into the demonic force!
I am fond of psychological horror, but there’s also a time and place for full-on grotesque bloody murder. I was happy with how quickly the plot kicked into high gear with the rampant gore and violence; although this will undoubtedly put off some readers, I tend to skim stories which are all about the setup and only have a minimal payoff in the last 10%. That certainly wasn’t an issue here! The story really is saturated in human blood and viscera, and even more confronting than that, a whole lot of sex scenes. The evil mirror is powered by blood, tears and semen, after all…
Your mileage may vary, but I liked the flashbacks that gave insight into the mirror’s history and previous attempts to harness its powers. It was a clever way of providing exposition without characters making startling leaps in logic and improbably arriving at the correct conclusion or simply having the token mentor figure show up for the requisite info-dump to keep the plot moving along in the right direction. And as a cool but creepy bonus, it turns out that a few of these historical characters actually existed! :O
Now, I was set to give this 5 stars until the euphoria wore off and some of the plot-holes began to expose themselves. For instance, there’s Edmund Talbot, the scarred man who proves to be a capable cop-slayer with the ability to kill someone with ONE PUNCH…why does he leave a trail of bodies behind him? It impedes his ability to gain access to the mirror since the cops predictably surround Jonathon’s property once they’ve ascertained his interest in the mirror…if he’d simply lain low and avoided brutally murdering cops in broad daylight, his mission would’ve been much easier! Also, he repeatedly thinks to himself that he would have to kill Jonathon if and only if he could prove that the man was powering the mirror with his blood…now if Edmund was shown to hold human life in great regard and to be reluctant to harm innocents, I could let that go, but it isn’t the case at all. For a sociopathic mission killer, he was very hands-off and tolerant!
To a lesser extent, the main detective’s intense suspicion of Jonathon didn’t seem logical. At one point, she even wonders to herself why it is she has such a vehement dislike for the man and I speculated that perhaps the mirror was beginning to exert its influence on her and clouding her judgment. Earlier, she’d stated that she believed in Jonathon’s account of how he acquired the mirror at auction and that the scarred man must have threatened all the people associated with it into silence, but then all of a sudden, it’s like that scene never happened and she’s back to baseless suspicion. There was also the frankly horrendous lack of compassion for the victim of a violent attack and threats to arrest that character under suspicion of murder simply to try and coax out any hidden truths. That really bothered me and pulled me out of the story because I didn’t think it was likely that the police would be so harsh to a victim in their hospital bed!
However, those were minor issues for me that only stood out when I looked back over this story with a more critical eye. In the moment, I devoured the book with few reservations and breathless anticipation, it fired up my imagination as I tried to predict what would happen next. Overall, I really had a blast reading this and after a few duds in the horror genre, Mirror Image has reignited my passion for the macabre. 😀 I would recommend this to readers who enjoy an abundance of bloodshed and intense action!
Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 creeped-out kitties!
Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC free from Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.