Plague in the Mirror
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Plague in the Mirror

4.0 1
by Deborah Noyes

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In a sensual paranormal romance, a teen girl’s doppelgänger from 1348 Florence lures her into the past in hopes of exacting a deadly trade.

It was meant to be a diversion — a summer in Florence with her best friend, Liam, and his travel-writer mom, doing historical research between breaks for gelato. A chance to forget that back in Vermont,


In a sensual paranormal romance, a teen girl’s doppelgänger from 1348 Florence lures her into the past in hopes of exacting a deadly trade.

It was meant to be a diversion — a summer in Florence with her best friend, Liam, and his travel-writer mom, doing historical research between breaks for gelato. A chance to forget that back in Vermont, May’s parents, and all semblance of safety, were breaking up. But when May wakes one night sensing someone in her room, only to find her ghostly twin staring back at her, normalcy becomes a distant memory. And when later she follows the menacing Cristofana through a portale to fourteenth-century Florence, May never expects to find safety in the eyes of Marco, a soulful painter who awakens in her a burning desire and makes her feel truly seen. The wily Cristofana wants nothing less of May than to inhabit each other’s lives, but with the Black Death ravaging Old Florence, can May’s longing for Marco’s touch be anything but madness? Lush with atmosphere both passionate and eerie, this evocative tale follows a girl on the brink of womanhood as she dares to transcend the familiar — and discovers her sensual power.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Back home in Vermont, May's parents are splitting up and waiting for her to decide where she'll spend her last year of high school. Here in Florence, she should be eating gelato, hanging out with her old friend Liam, and helping his travel writer mother research her next book. But what's meant to be a pleasant distraction gets complicated when Cristofana, May's ghostly double, comes to visit. Cristofana has created a portal between her world—Florence during the plague years—and May's. What does she want? A trade: her world for May's. There's no reason for May to say yes, except—as canny, willful Cristofana knows—in May's first brief foray into old Florence, she fell under the spell of a handsome artist. Noyes (The Ghosts of Kerfol) has hold of a rich and haunting premise, but as May and Cristofana argue about what will or won't happen, the book starts to feel like all concept with little payoff. The problem is compounded by the fact that Cristofana—old before her time, with a complicated family and witchlike powers—is much more interesting than the under-characterized May. Ages 14–up. (June)
Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
May is in the enviable position of spending a summer in Florence with Liam and Gwen, her childhood best friend and his mother. Most seventeen-year-olds would relish the thought of a summer in Italy sans parents. But coming on the heels of her parents’ surprise divorce announcement, all May feels is discombobulated. The feeling is exacerbated when May’s evil twin Cristofana starts visiting her in ghost form from plague-infested Florence circa 1348. Using a magic cloth, some choice spell words and an oversized ruby ring, uneducated Cristofana has somehow managed to create a time portal between Florence of the Middle Ages and Florence today. Slightly wacky and exhibiting twisted morals (somewhat understandable given her dire situation), but decidedly tenacious, Cristofana wants nothing less than to trade places. May is lured into Cristofana’s world thanks to a chance alluring encounter with Marco, an apprentice painter. Despite Liam’s increasingly obvious interest in the modern world, the rising desperation of Florence as the plague takes its deadly toll, and Cristofana’s clear manipulations, May is still seduced by the idea of Marco and tempted by life in 1348 Florence. How both girls come to terms with their differing realities makes for an interesting, if far-fetched read. A young adult novel that attempts to be dark, haunting and, dreamy, the novel lurches along with a completely implausible plotline and characters that shy just south of believable. Reviewer: Kris Sauer AGERANGE: Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The summer before May's senior year, she goes to Florence with a friend of her mother's and her son, May's childhood best friend. May's parents are getting a divorce, and she needs to decide which one she will stay with once she returns. Liam, whom she has always thought of as a kind of brother, is showing signs that his feelings for her are far warmer than she's prepared to deal with. To compound her confusion, a haunting figure appears at the foot of her bed during the night. Her ghostlike twin has come to lure her into a desperate trade: May will go to 14th-century Florence, while she, Cristofana, takes her place in a world free of the plague. May visits ancient Florence with Cristofana and becomes obsessed with a handsome young artist named Marco. Will her passion lead her to choose what is clearly the more dangerous option? Although the premise should make Noyes's first YA novel an absorbing read, the dissonance that May experiences is the same that readers encounter while attempting to put a picture together of what this book is trying to be. Is it historical fiction? A horror story? A romance? A book can certainly be all three, but in this title, the history lessons are too forced, the horror is too unbelievable, and the romance so nonsensical that readers will be frustrated.—Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC
Kirkus Reviews
May's trip to Florence with family friends takes a frightening turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to find her ghostly twin standing at the foot of her bed. Determined to forget her parents' divorce and their request that she decide with whom to spend her senior year of high school, May travels with her childhood friend, Liam, and his travel-writer mother, Gwen. But her study of history becomes supernatural when her ethereal doppelganger appears, inviting her back in time. May becomes a ghostly version of herself as Cristofana leads her through a time portal into the middle of the Black Death. However, when Cristofana slips back into the future, May is left very human and very vulnerable in the past. Clever and dangerous, Cristofana lures May away from her life using Marco, a handsome artist. Historical details, opulent settings and awakening passions paint a rich landscape. The gritty reality of pre-Renaissance life comes alive set against the relative ease of modern times. Unfortunately, the setting is the star, overshadowing the characters. Noyes' story lacks mystery and dread, becoming more a study of the Middle Ages than an evocative ghost story. An informative tale, but it lacks spark. (Ghost story. 14 & up)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Deborah Noyes is the author of The Ghosts of Kerfol and the editor of the anthologies The Restless Dead and Gothic! She is also the author of Red Butterfly, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, and Hana in the Time of the Tulips, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Deborah Noyes lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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Plague in the Mirror 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
What would you do if someone looks exactly like you, but behaves in a completely different manner? In the chilling story, Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes, seventeen-year-old May is faced with such a dilemma. May is spending time in Florence, Italy with her best friend, Liam and his mother, Gwen. Gwen is a medieval literature teacher, working on a historical travel guidebook in Florence. Since May’s parents are in the process of getting divorced and forcing her to choose between them, she needs the diversion of spending time with her friends. One night, she is awakened by an apparition standing by the foot of her bed. May is petrified when she realizes that it is the figure of a ghost girl who looks like her identical twin dressed in an old-fashioned gown. She tells Liam her room might be haunted, but she is unwilling to go into further details. In this eery scene of the story, May is taking a stroll, enjoying the beautiful sights of the city when she sees the milky shadow of the ghost girl, Cristofana, from her dreams. May is curious to know where she comes from, so Cristofana takes her back in time to Old Florence to show her the ruinous damages of the Black Death. When May discovers the horrors of the deadly disease, she has a hard time coming to terms with what she is experiencing and feels delusional. Left alone in the Middle Ages, she eventually meets the talented painter, Marco Veronese. Despite their language barrier, they are still able to communicate. May is immediately mesmerized and fascinated by this man. The constant problem in May's life is her ghost twin, Cristofana, who has a dark personality and will not leave her alone. Cristofana is scared of the disease and wants May to help her. Since they are identical twins, Cristofana feels that fate can be altered if they were to switch places. Assuming May’s identity would provide Cristofana a safer haven. She is intent on taking over May’s life. Despite the darkness and gloom of Old Florence, May is fixated with the handsome painter she met there. She feels obligated to warn him and to save him from the disastrous Plague. Although she knows that the past is immutable, May wants to save lives from the disease. Will she stay in her present time with her friends or travel back to the past to be with the handsome artist, Marco? I was very happy to review this amazing novel that takes readers back in time to a world of dread and suffering. Plague in the Mirror By Deborah Noyes is a dark story that depicts the historical enormity of the Black Death, in contrast to the beauties of modern Florence. Although I have never been to Florence, Italy, reading this story with its descriptive scenes made me feel I was actually there with May and her friends. If you are in the mood to read a haunting tale that takes you on a dark journey through time and back into the present, I would advise you to get this book. I can honestly say this was a satisfying read created by an artistic author. Quill says: Plague in the Mirror is a unique depiction of time travel, a protagonist faced with an important decision, and a little romance in the fourteenth century.