Ginger Nuts of Horror
“If you’re looking for a bargain in a London auction house, stay well clear of the mirrors!”
When you get to the crux of Michael Scott and Melanie Ruth Rose’s “Mirror Image” there is a story which has been told many times before. A mirror with supernatural powers and the ability to ensnare its various owners to kill in its name through dark obsession. So this story offers nothing particularly new, but does throw in a heavy dose of violence and sex into the mix. Since Oscar Wilde introduced us to Dorian Gray mirrors have been a popular theme in modern horror, so now we have another. Along the way, although the stories were different I couldn’t help thinking of the horror movie “Oculus” whilst I was reading this novel. Probably because there is only so much you can do with a demon mirror plotline….
A wealthy American art dealer buys a huge seven foot mirror at auction whilst visiting London. Not long after getting it back to Los Angeles two of his employees are quickly bumped off, we the readers are in no doubt it is the mirror. So a supernatural element is introduced into the plot early and the police then get involved, as does a dodgy scarred man who offers to buy the mirror from Jonathan, and eventually threatens him when he refuses. Other major characters include the investigating police officer and both Jonathan’s wife and daughter. As Jonathan begins to feel the powerful attraction of the mirror all bets are off as it begins to take control, soon he is suspected of murder and everything spins out of control.
As authors go Scott is very prolific and I really enjoyed his YA fantasy series the “Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” which began with “The Alchemyst” so it was interesting to read one of his adult novels. Although it moves along at a decent pace I did not connect with any of the characters, including the art dealer Jonathan. His teenage daughter, who is introduced half-way through the novel was entertaining, but her problems with the mirror begin before we really got to know her at all.
The plot was terribly predictable pretty much all the way through. But when we the reader realise that the mirror is best cleaned with virgin blood for maximum supernatural power I had to laugh as we were heading at full pace into the territory of some pretty major clichés. But worse is to come, the mirror is most powerful when the moon is full…. (no, it doesn’t get all shaggy) And did I mention the virgin trainee priest who was de-robed, deflowered and then killed? The clichés really do come thick and fast at certain points.
There were lots of flick backs to the time of Elizabeth I and the original owners of the mirror and the origins of its power. None of which was particularly engaging, even when they involved real historical characters. Sure, we realise the mirror has power and the more death that surrounds it, the greater power it has. As I long term horror reader I just don’t believe there is enough substance to build a whole 350 page novel around this basic idea. Jonathan gets madder and madder, but do really care that much? His wife and daughter are sucked into the maelstrom, but by that stage I was not that bothered.
There was a heavy dose of both sex and violence, particularly sex, as if the mirror couldn’t be sated with virgins (let’s face it, hard to come by these days), it made do with prostitutes, semen, or even self-harming as the poor sucker is pulled further into the pain of obsession. As the images are made clearer by blood we get glimpses of the other-side, much of which was one dimensional.
Maybe I’m just a bit old to be reading about demonic mirrors? If you removed the sex and much of the violence the plot of this book wouldn’t be out of place in one of RL Stine’s “Goosebump” or “Point Horror” novels. I’m sure some readers would see it as an undemanding page-turner with some blood and high-jinx thrown in along the way, personally I like my horror to have more substance, layers and fear.