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Dark Mirror (Dark Mirror Series #1)

Dark Mirror (Dark Mirror Series #1)

4.0 35
by M. J. Putney

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Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status.

Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory


Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status.

Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory's blood is tainted . . . by magic.

When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she's fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she's one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.

But Tory's life is about to change forever. All that she's ever known or considered important will be challenged. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl's worth.

Dark Mirror is M.J. Putney's first young adult novel, and it's enthralling—an historical fantasy that's both fast-paced and deeply moving.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Absolutely riveting. Putney creates a vivid historical fantasy and delivers a page-turning read.” —RT Book Reviews

“Putney, an award-winning adult romance author, keeps the pace fast, adds a dash of suspense and shines a friendly light on history while providing plenty of entertainment in her first novel for teens.” —Kirkus Reviews

VOYA - Jan Chapman
This historical romance/fantasy novel toggles back and forth in time between the early 1800s and the beginning of WWII. It is set in the town of Lackland, home of a boarding school for wayward sons and daughters of the British aristocracy. These students are not guilty of moral turpitude, but of having the ability to practice magic, which has been outlawed. Lady Victoria has just arrived at Lackland and her only hope of returning to society rests upon whether she can learn to repress her powers forever. But Tory finds that some of the teachers and students are members of a secret magic society that meets in the tunnels under the school to practice their craft. Tory joins the group and discovers a silver mirror that whisks her to 1940. There she finds that her magic is desperately needed, as the success of the evacuation of the Allies from Dunkirk depends upon the weather being just right. Except for a few plot holes here and there, this novel is satisfyingly constructed. The romance and fantasy are nicely balanced, without one overpowering the other. Unlike many adult novels in this genre, the romance is limited to passionate embraces, which makes it appropriate for younger teen readers. The characters and plot are fairly stock but comfortably predictable, with just enough surprise to keep the reader interested. All in all, this is a solid debut YA novel for Putney and it will appeal to teen fans of both romance and fantasy. Reviewer: Jan Chapman
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Beginning in the late 17th century, magic was frowned upon by the upper classes of the British Realm. By 1803, this distaste for all things magical is so strong that young aristocrats who sully their family's name and reputation by having magical powers are banished to Lackland Academy where they are "reformed." With training, they are allowed to return to their families, as the black sheep no doubt, but they might be able to retain their inheritances. When Lady Victoria displays her magical abilities while saving her nephew's life, she is sent posthaste to Lackland. Following an introduction to the school and its workings, Tory becomes involved with a group trying to train their magic in order to assist in defending Britain against Napoleon's anticipated invasion. In an unexpected twist, the teen enters one of Merlin's legendary mirrors and time-travels to Lackland Abby circa 1940 deep in the midst of World War II. The tightly woven story brings in the magical and historical in clever and engaging ways, and fans of fantasy, romance, and adventure will find it riveting. From idle boarding school chatter to the brutality of war, Putney paints vivid scenes and makes a remarkable transition from adult to YA writing.—Genevieve Gallagher, Charlottesville High School, VA
Kirkus Reviews

This enjoyable supernatural time-travel story follows many of the conventions of romance novels, with its characters mostly drawn from English aristocracy (in this case in 1803) and an impossible romance with a drop-dead gorgeous young heir to a dukedom. However, modern readers need not cope with archaic language or conventions, as the characters speak in modern phrases, have mostly modern relationships and even adopt cute modern nicknames. Lady Victoria, known as "Tory," discovers that she has magical talent, a devastating blow, as society strongly disapproves of magic in the aristocracy. Her secret revealed, her father sends her to Lackland Academy, which promises to drain her magic from her. Instead Tory finds kindred spirits there—and that luscious lord—who develop their magical talents in order to save England from Napoleon. Almost caught by school authorities, Tory stumbles through Merlin's Mirror, which transports her, and later her friends, to 1940. There they work to control the weather as the English evacuate the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. But can they all survive, even the handsome lordling? Well, it's a romance novel. No one expects it to be plausible. Putney, an award-winning adult romance author, keeps the pace fast, adds a dash of suspense and shines a friendly light on history while providing plenty of entertainment in her first novel for teens. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Dark Mirror Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


England, 1803

Lady Victoria Mansfield flew high, high over her family’s estate. Arms and legs outstretched, long skirts fluttering around her knees as she gloried in her freedom and in the soft scented wind.

She laughed with delight as she saw the familiar Somersetshire hills from above. Here was the vast stone length of her home, Fairmount Hall, there the beautiful gardens that ran to the bluffs. Waves crashed far below, and gulls soared at Tory’s height, their cries haunting.

She swooped down to investigate the round stone dovecote. Doves squawked in protest when she flew inside. Startled, she almost plunged to the ground.

Concentrate on staying aloft. With a giddy rush, Tory swooped up again, soaring through the door of the dovecote and into the sky. Perhaps she should fly to the nearby estate of the Harford family. The Honorable Edmund Harford was the eldest son and heir to his father’s title and property.

She’d always admired Edmund. He was back from university for the summer and she wanted him to see that she had grown. Perhaps he’d think she was almost as pretty as her older sister, Sarah.

Tory banked into the wind and turned east toward the Harford estate.

A horrified cry shocked her awake.

*   *   *

Jolted from sleep, Tory realized she was floating a yard above her rumpled bed, terrifyingly unsupported. Her mother, the Countess of Fairmont, stood in the doorway, her expression horrified. “Victoria,” she breathed. “Oh, please, no!”

Tory glanced up into the canopy above her head. A spider had spun a web in the corner, and the ugly creature was looking right at her.

She shrieked and crashed down on the bed, her breath whooshing out as she flopped onto her stomach. Shaken and afraid, she pushed herself up with her arms. She couldn’t really have been flying! “What … what happened?”

“You were flying.” Her mother closed the door, her white-knuckled hand locked around the knob. “Don’t ever do that again!” she said, voice shaking. “You know how society feels about mages. How … how your father feels about them.”

“I can’t be a mage!” Tory gasped, shocked by the impossibility of her mother’s words. “I’m a Mansfield. We’re not magical!”

At least not that Tory had ever heard. Seeing the countess’s guilty expression caused her to ask incredulously, “Mama, have there been mages in our family?”

Such a thing wasn’t possible. It just wasn’t! Magic corrupted, and she wasn’t corrupt. Yes, she’d felt herself changing as she grew to womanhood. Strange dreams, new desires. But those were just growing pains. Not magic!

Tory refused to believe her mother could be a mage. Lady Fairmount was considered the greatest lady in the county, an example to all wellborn young ladies.

And yet … guilt was written as plain as day on the countess’s lovely face. When the countess refused to reply, Tory’s world began to crack beneath her.

“Do you have magical ability?” she said, shocked and desperately unwilling to believe such a thing. Yet looking back … “You always knew what we were doing. Geoff and Sarah and I thought you had eyes in the back of your head.”

“There were rumors,” her mother whispered, tears shining in her eyes. “About my Russian grandmother, Viktoria Ivanova. The one you’re named for. She died when I was very small, so I didn’t really know her, but … it’s possible she brought mage blood into the family.”

Tory’s namesake had poisoned the blue-blooded Mansfield family with magic? And Tory might suffer for that? It wasn’t fair!

Feeling utterly betrayed, she cried, “How could you not warn me? If I’d known I might have magic, I could have guarded against it!”

“I thought you children had escaped the taint! I have very little power. Scarcely any at all. It seemed better not to worry you about such an unlikely possibility.” Lady Fairmount was literally wringing her hands. “But … you look rather like Viktoria Ivanova. You must have inherited some of her talent.”

Tory wanted to howl. Voice breaking, she said, “I’ve never floated like this before. It’s just a freak, something that will never happen again, I swear it!”

The countess looked deeply sad. “Magic appears when boys and girls grow to adulthood. It’s hard to suppress, but you must try, Victoria. If your father finds out, he’ll certainly send you to Lackland.”

Tory gasped in disbelief. Though children of the nobility who had magic were often sent to the prisonlike school called Lackland Abbey, surely she wouldn’t be forced to leave her friends and family! “You’ve managed to hide your power from everyone, and so can I. I’m another whole generation away from Viktoria Ivanova.” Tory drew a shaky breath. “No one will ever know about me, either.”

“The ability to fly is not minor magic,” her mother said, expression worried. “You may find it harder to hide your abilities than I have.”

“I wasn’t flying!” Tory protested. “I always toss and turn when I’m sleeping.” Knowing how feeble that sounded, she continued. “If I am cursed with magic, I’ll learn to control it. You always said I was more stubborn than Geoffrey and Sarah put together.”

“I hope you succeed,” her mother said sadly. “If your ability becomes known, I don’t think I’ll be able to save you from Lackland Abbey. God keep you, my child.” Silent tears fell unchecked as she backed from the room, closing the door behind her.

Leaving her daughter alone in a shattered world.

Tory struggled not to panic. She couldn’t go to Lackland Abbey. Even when students were cured and sent home, they were considered tainted, like the madmen at Bedlam Hospital.

Uneasily she remembered a story whispered by her best friend, Louisa Fisk. The daughter of a baron from nearby Devon had been sent to Lackland after her family discovered she was a mageling. The girl had been betrothed from birth to the son of a family friend, but the betrothal had been broken immediately.

When the girl finally left Lackland, she’d been forced to become a governess. A year later, she walked off a cliff.

Tory’s bedside candle cast enough light to reveal her dim reflection in the mirror opposite her bed. The rest of the family was tall and blond, while Tory was petite and dark-haired. The countess always said her dark hair, slim build, and slightly tilted eyes had come from her Russian grandmother. Tory rather liked her exotic looks. It was horrible to know they might have come with despicable magical ability.

But the magic didn’t show. With her wide eyes and a glossy night braid falling over the shoulder of her lace-trimmed white nightgown, she looked like any normal, harmless schoolroom girl.

Her gaze traveled around her bedroom. Her beautiful, grown-up room, redecorated as a present for her sixteenth birthday because Mama had said she was a young lady, and a lady’s room might make her less of a tomboy.

Tory loved the rich moldings, the elegant rose-patterned brocade upholstery, the carved walnut posts that supported the matching brocade canopy of her bed. It was the bedroom of a young lady who would soon be presented to society and would have her pick of the most eligible young men in England.

Her mother had given her this beautiful room but failed to warn her that she might be cursed with magic. It was damnable!

Tory shivered, wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed and pull the covers over her head. But she must discover if she truly did carry the taint of magic.

She sat on the edge of her bed and imagined herself flying as she had in her dream. She felt a fluttering in her midriff, but to her relief, nothing happened. She remained solidly on the bed.

But was she trying hard enough? She closed her eyes and thought of herself floating in the air. She concentrated so hard that her head began to ache. Still nothing.

She wasn’t a mage. It was some kind of misunderstanding!

Then the inner fluttering stabilized with a silent click. Dizziness—and Tory shrieked as her head bumped a yielding surface. Her eyes snapped open and she saw that her head was pushing into the bed’s brocade canopy.

Shocked, she fell, bouncing from the edge of the mattress onto the soft Chinese carpet. Knees bruised, she got to her feet and tested herself again. This time she kept her eyes open as she consciously sought that inner change.

Click! She rose from the carpet with alarming speed. Too fast!

With the thought, her movement slowed and she floated gently up to the ceiling. She felt light and no longer afraid as the air supported her as softly as a feather mattress.

For an instant, excitement blazed through her. She could fly!

Her pleasure vanished instantly. Wielding magic was vulgar. Dishonorable, even. Noble families like Tory’s were the descendants of kings and warriors. Mages were mere tradesmen like blacksmiths and seamstresses. A Mansfield would rather starve than go into trade.

Yet the pulse of magic that held her in the air felt so good. How could it be evil?

Her lips tightened. Teachers and vicars invariably said that feeling good was the mark of sin. She must never fly like this again.

But before she put magic away forever, Tory wanted to explore her amazing, appalling new ability. She tried to swoop across the room as she’d done in her dream, but the best she could manage was drifting a little faster.

She looked down onto the top of her bed’s canopy. Ugh! Dead bugs. She’d tell a maid to take the canopy down for cleaning.

Tory drifted along a wall until she reached one of the carved angels set in each corner of the room. This close, she saw patches where the gilding had peeled away from the wood. The bare spots weren’t visible from floor level.

She wasn’t really flying, she decided. Not like a bird, not like a Turk on a flying carpet. But she could float safely and control her direction and speed if she concentrated.

Her new ability wasn’t very useful, apart from allowing her to get books from the top shelves in her father’s library. Tiring, Tory descended too fast and banged hard on the carpet.

She winced as she rubbed the stinging sole of her right foot. She must take more care in the future.…

No! She would never fly—float—again. Doing so was wrong, and exhausting as well. Tory could barely manage to climb the steps up into her bed.

Tory rolled into a ball under the covers, shivering despite the warm night. It was impossible to deny the truth. She, Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest of the Earl of Fairmount’s three children, had been cursed with magic from her unknown great grandmother.

But she wouldn’t let it ruin her life. She wouldn’t!

DARK MIRROR Copyright © 2011 by Mary Jo Putney, Inc.

Meet the Author

M. J. Putney is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Dark Passage. As Mary Jo Putney, she is the New York Times bestselling author of historical romances. M. J. is fond of reading, cats, travel, and most of all, great stories.

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Dark Mirror 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
Dark Mirror, although filled with excitement, was much less than what I had expected it to be. It did have a compelling story filled with magic, adventure, and romance, but I felt like It wasn't written in a practical way. I felt like It started the wrong way and then jumped through events. It begins with Tori waking up to find out she has magical powers; the problem is it introduces Tori and her family with no prior introduction and we don't really get to know much about her or her family within the first part of the story. It skips from finding out in chapter 1 that Tori has magical powers to, all of a sudden, in chapter two being found out for her powers and condemned to a place called Lackland Abby (a school for those with a magically ability). From there it seems to skip from one major event to another. Everything happens a bit too suddenly. For instance: on the first day of school at Lackland Tori finds, to her dismay, that boys and girls are not allowed to interact with each other, but she spies a handsome boy through the fence and all she can think about after that is him. I did enjoy the travel between times though, it made the book more interesting. Another problem I had with the story is that the main characters spent more time in another time period helping that times war efforts than in their own time helping stop their own war. The Characters were believable and added different fun elements to the story, and I never knew what was going to happen next. Parents or readers might want to be aware of : Mild language throughout the book. The d--n word was used often, as was the h--l word. There was also some cheezy romance that almost got to a PG-13 area. Thankfully for the reader though, the boy decided to be a gentleman saying, "I will not ruin you." But in the end he decides otherwise saying, "I will not ruin you...there will be time for that later." There is no indication that they have sex though. I am guessing that readers who love romance and historical fiction will be more enthusiastic about this read than I was. Even though I may not have enjoyed it as much as I enjoy other books, It was worth reading. I give it 2 and a half stars.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
"And gentlemen in England now abed / Shall think themselves accursed they were not here." Sixteen year old Lady Victoria "Tory" Mansfield had dreams of her debut, meeting and dancing with eligible gentlemen and making a worthy match like her brother and sister before her. In one brief moment of courage she couldn't regret, all those dreams came crashing down. What could it have been like for such a young and innocent lady to suddenly lose everything that was supposed to matter as well as the connection to everyone who had been her anchor in a single afternoon? Thanks to a gift she didn't know she possessed and certainly never asked for, Lady Victoria would be reduced to an undistinguishable Miss upon entering the grounds of Lackland Abbey. You won't have to wonder how it felt if you are reading M.J. Putney's first young adult work of fiction, Dark Mirror. As a New York Times Best Selling author, Ms. Putney is well known for her historical books and rightly so. But, if you are looking for a typical Regency romance of balls, dresses and carriage rides through Hyde Park, you will be sorely disappointed. If instead, you are looking for a book with emotion, energy, vivid writing, clever dialogue, engaging characters, a storyline that will have you gladly losing sleep, patriotism, magic and lastly the beautiful beginnings of a young romance.then you've picked the perfect book. Being an American student, the details of World War II were always explained beginning with the US being tragically forced into the war. I knew who we were allied with and against and why, but my patriotism was decidedly pro-American and it was our efforts that secured the ultimate victory against Hitler. Ms. Putney's story has given me a whole new perspective on this dark time in our history but from the POV of several British youth. Her quotes from PM Winston Churchill, the amazingly graphic language describing war torn England and talk of flying the Union Jack had me cheering right along with my distant cousins across the pond as the soldiers in Dunkirk were rescued. You may be wondering how I went from Regency England to WWII England. Well, Tory and her friends manage it through a Merlin's Mirror; I simply traveled along with them! I started this review with a quote from Henry V that is also used in the book. Think about that quote as you read this incredible story. I believe you will see the deeper meaning that transcends place and time that even King Henry himself could not have anticipated on that fateful St. Crispin's Day. Dark Mirror may be listed as young adult literature but it will be enjoyed by older adults as well. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Dark Mirror today. Ms. Putney is already hinting about a follow-up book or possibly two and this reviewer will be anxiously waiting for those releases. Dark Mirror was a terrific story and well-earned the Best Book rating. Originall posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews.
Tawni More than 1 year ago
Dark Mirror was such a refreshing read. I loved the clear writing and the story line was unique and interesting, although there were a couple flaws for me, I still really enjoyed it! I LOVE history, so when I realized this is going to be filled with historical events I got so excited! Lady Victoria Mansfield, or Tory, lives in 1803 England around the time Napoleon Bonaparte planned to invade England. Tory's main concern though is to marry a wealthy man with a strong title, until she discovers she's a mage! When an accident happens at a gathering, she makes the choice to use her powers, visible or not, to fix the situation. When others find out what she is they are appalled and Tory is no longer eligible for a husband of a high status. She's sent off to a reform school to learn how to suppress her powers and possibly come back 'well'. While at Lackland Abbey, the reform school, Tory discovers that its much harder to suppress her powers when there are so many things she could do! Soon she finds herself wanting to use her power more and more and gets plunged into a situation that hardly anyone could believe. Tory is strong-willed, but I'm not sure she believed it herself, especially in the beginning. I enjoyed how Tory wasn't afraid to explore her powers and talent, despite the consequences. M.J. Putney really took the time to develop all of her characters. I felt like I knew each one so well and I wasn't asking myself questions about them or easily forgetting certain details. The only negative thing about this is that it was a really slow start. It took me a while to throw myself into the book. The romance was so perfect in this book. Its just the slightest hint and tease that I can't wait for more in the next book! I would have like to seen a bit more and maybe even earlier in the book, but I can't complain too much, because what romance there was was sweet! ;) Review based on ARC copy
The_BookishType More than 1 year ago
In DARK MIRROR, readers will feel as though they have fallen through time -- straight into 19th century England. M. J. Putney evokes the vibrant period with flair, bringing it to life before readers' eyes as she weaves magic into the very fabric of history. The age is fascinating in its own right, filled with social tension and political shifts, the threat of war and the perseverance of elegance -- it seems only fitting to throw true magic into the mix of an already magical time. The author's love of history is evident in the incredibly detailed accounts of not one, but two eras, pulling readers through time to the war-ravaged shores of WWII Europe. The eerie parallels between the Napoleonic Wars of Tory's time and the WWII battles she faces in the future are powerfully drawn, evoking unsettling questions about the ways in which history repeats itself. Though the setting steals the show, Tory proves to be a beauty with a backbone, demonstrating unwavering strength in the face of adversity. Her roommate Cynthia also sparks with life -- though not a truly villainous antagonist, her snarky remarks and emotional baggage make her a refreshing counterpart to Tory's poise. There are a wide range of other secondary characters, but Jack Rainford stands out from the start. Jack bursts hilariously onto the scene and I would have loved to see more of his mischief, rather than letting him fade into the background. Unfortunately, the other characters felt rather stiff and staged, making it difficult to connect with the romance that blossoms over the course of the novel. Nonetheless, readers will find themselves swept up in the whirlwind of fact and fantasy, enjoying the sights and sounds of two of history's richest periods. ~Review from thebookishtype[dot]blogspot[dot]com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome read!
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I am not sure about this but it looks really good
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Wolf-Princess3 More than 1 year ago
I love this series, I love history and magic. I love that this series combines the two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
StarryEyedHeart More than 1 year ago
If I remember correctly, I found out about Dark Mirror browsing written reviews and book hauls on the internet. After reading the book synopsis and doing a little research on it the plot seem promising, so I went ahead and purchased it. I have a weakness for historical fictions-especially ones under the Young Adult section (regardless of being a history noob … I know it’s strange!); with subtle romances and that is exactly what this book offers, but with something a little extra … magic! I was actually surprise to find out that this was M. J. Putney’s first take on YA novels; it was just brilliant!
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