I was first introduced to the wonderful writing of Debra Dean when I read her first novel The Madonnas of Leningrad a few years ago and absolutely loved it (my review). She has a way of bringing the past to life in such an engaging way and she’s done it once again in her newest novel The Mirrored World.
The Mirrored World is about Xenia who was an 18th century religious figure who became known as St. Xenia. We see her world through her cousin Dasha’s eyes who narrates this story for us. Xenia isn’t one for convention and she certainly doesn’t make an effort to conform to what is proper for the times. For the most part she really lives in her dream world. When she falls in love with Andrei it seems that she will have the life she always dreamed of and for a time she does. When tragedy strikes Xenia’s world falls apart and she reverts into a world where she alone lives. She turns away from family and friends, gives away all of her possessions to the poor, and disappears. Dasha finds her living among the poor where she has become well known as being a healer and a seer and although she convinces her to come home many times, there are just as many where Xenia leaves again. It is in this way that eventually Xenia becomes a legend.
I liked the character of Dasha particularly for her absolute loyalty to Xenia. When others couldn’t be bothered with her anymore Dasha would search her out and make sure she was clothed and fed. However while I liked Dasha and even Xenia I did not feel a connection with any of the characters. It could be the length of the book which is fairly short. Maybe had the characters been more fleshed out it would give a reader more and therefore ensure some kind of connection. Then again it could just have been me and in all fairness not having that connection didn’t take away from me enjoying the novel.
I would recommend The Mirrored World to those who enjoy historical fiction. Debra Dean writes beautifully and it is a joy to read her words. While I did enjoy The Mirrored World I didn’t find it as captivating as I did The Madonnas of Leningrad. I think I was expecting more of a story as in The Madonnas of Leningrad and these two books are very different from each other. The Mirrored World is one of those novels that you take in slowly, ponder, and enjoy.
The Mirrored World by Debra Dean is on tour with TLC Book Tours so be sure to check out the other tour stops for more thoughts on the book. Debra Dean can be found on Facebook and if you’d like to purchase The Mirrored World you can do so here in the US and here in Canada.
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the Publisher via Edelweiss. No compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.