A small bronze gift called “Mirror”, an unusual story by juvenile fantasy/mystery Greek author Anna Musewald, whose former books have been published in Greek and German with this e-book translated into English by Dimitris Bontis.
Plot: Lydia, five years old and readying to begin school, sees police at the house where she lives with her mother and her Grandmother Maria. She is told that her mother had to leave for a while. Shortly thereafter, the two make a quick and inexplicable move followed by several more in the following few years until at twelve, Maria leaves her at a boarding school with a Mrs. M. With time, she begins to wonder about her past and from her diary and gradually evolving memories discovers that her mother actually had been poisoned and that her Grandmother was blamed due to untrue information. Additionally, three other deaths of people who had attempted to help her Grandmother had occurred. With school activity, another interesting item is brought to her attention. Maria had given her, as a sixth year birthday present, a very old piece of bronze attached to a stick that she was told was a mirror. She thought it worthless but now at school discovers how to use this mirror, enters a contest participated in by students from other schools as well, wins the contest and escapes from the school to attempt to discover what happened to her mother, why her grandmother was still missing and the perplexing reality hidden behind or within the mirror.
Discussion: A situation seems to arise occasionally where this reviewer seems to be in total disagreement with the others. Specifically, although not removed completely from other reviewer’s thought processors in the majority of cases, we again differ quite noticeably on this book. Thus, a SPOILER ALERT, or perhaps better yet, a HUMBLE APOLOGY is necessary for the following discussion that extends somewhat beyond pertinence to this specific book. The reasons for our major differences are diverse, but in this case seem to arise from interpretation and a completely understandable hesitancy to be critical of an already well accepted author. We agree that the author probably can write well, although another feature not mentioned is that she certainly deserves a better translation. She also obviously is quite knowledgeable of the well described features of the countries and places visited (e.g. terrain, cities, castles) and of the fabled/historical stories/parables (e.g. the women of the defeated city transporting their most precious possessions [husbands] to safety, Montezuma/Cortez relationship, unique historical/fabled position of mirrors) and weaves them well into her tale of mystery/fantasy. From this point we part ways. At least to this reader, this appeared to be a story moving forward toward positive results with possible allegorical overtones. She states: “Those who manage to forge the closest relationship with their faithful reflection are made for the highest positions in the world. They are tomorrow’s leaders who will lead the world with guaranteed prosperity to the future.” In other words, these persons can be introspectively honest and hold the best intentions for the world foremost. And later she explains that no one can know in advance the moves of a man of free will when explaining the actions of the villains in the plot. However, for this reviewer the story seems to ‘lose its way’ as Lydia begins and continues her somewhat vaguely meandering journey of inquiry with pertinent reasons for much activity often difficult to discern. Additionally, some of the physical activity, most especially where physical altercations take place, are particularly difficult to accept even for the targeted audience which is far more knowledgeable than the amount of credit given them. Thus, I have the impression that the talented and successfully published author of this book unfortunately has been misinformed or for some other reason not been made completely aware of the high degree of sophistication that exists in the youth of this country. And I believe that many of us, as reviewers, often forget, or many even only tangently may be aware of the tremendous differences among the generations. Briefly, we know economics are different, but often give little thought to attitudes, and perhaps even more obviously, thought processes and verbalization. Every generation devises its own. Many of the terms that a Millennial commonly uses actually mean nothing to a member of Generation X. and it is hypothesized that an individual of average intelligence in the 1950’s would be of near genius level today with the wide dissemination of knowledge that begins even before school attendance. Traditionally, readers expect reviewers to be aware of these changes that occur and take them into consideration, uninfluenced by the writer’s reputation or similar factors, when we examine/review a work. Admittedly, I could be completely wrong but have been influenced personally by a note sent by an author several years ago: “I think your review is accurate and it certainly is an immersion, for better or worse. Most people really like that but it is a little too much for some others.” So, specifically stated, it is my understanding that most authors, as well as readers, expect reviewers ‘to tell it like it is’, and several other authors even have expressed appreciation for such action.
Conclusion: A probably well-written book that deserves a better translation, by an accomplished author who has been misinformed about the level of sophistication of the youth of this country. An included explanation suggests a reason for the wide division between this review and the others provided; i.e., a wide difference exists between generations with the present ones at a level of sophistication not realized by many. If such lack of realization is evident in a published book, it should be recognized and although not particularly beneficial and possibly heart rending to the author, it is only fair to the reader and author that this fact be presented.
2* Poorly translated, knowledgeably written, regrettably targeted for audience of lesser sophistication level.