Grace’s Reading Corner: The Mirror Visitor Quartet
So, for this review we have a guest: my wife Grace! She is an avid reader since she was young but has recently stepped up her book game by reading even more in the past few months. Now normally she is just satisfied by telling me all about her books, but with this series she felt like there was a lot more she could say, and so she had the idea of doing a guest review on the blog. So, please enjoy a special post about one Grace’s new favorite series: The Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos.
This series was pretty different from anything I’ve read before, and spoiler-alert for this review- I loved it! I devoured the whole thing in a week and a half. I first heard of this series through TikTok, and on top of the glowing reviews, I was also (being the artist I am) immediately taken in by the beautiful cover art. Something really unique about The Mirror Visitor Quartet is that it was originally written in French! This led to phrasing that I can only describe as charming, and definitely added to my enjoyment of these books. Dabos is a master at description with beautiful prose that absolutely breathes life into her words. While reading a new series after finishing this one, I found myself missing the way Dabos took her time describing scenes and creating a full, imaginative picture.
Here’s a quick (spoiler-free) description of this series: Ophelia is a young woman living in a world shattered into floating islands known as Arks. Each Ark has its own unique set of characteristics and a Family Spirit that presides over its inhabitants. Ophelia is from Anima, an Ark known for its residents’ power over objects. She has the ability to look into the past of an object just by touching it, and she can travel short distances through one mirror to another. Ophelia’s quiet life is abruptly interrupted when she is betrothed to Thorn, a stranger from the powerful Dragon clan on an Ark called the Pole. Suddenly, Ophelia is thrust into a dangerous circuit of court politics and mysterious occurrences, with an even more mysterious fiancé. The question of why she was chosen as Thorn’s betrothed quickly becomes the least of her problems as she discovers that she may not be the only one in danger.
For those interested, this series is a must-read! I would whole-heartedly recommend it, even if it has some flaws. It was super compelling, full of twists and unique worlds, and beautifully written.
OKAY IT’S TIME FOR SPOILERS! TURN BACK NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS! (no spoilers in the last paragraph)
One of the main draws of this series was the main character, Ophelia. Ophelia was not a typical fantasy heroine; you know the ones who suddenly master unique powers and have a natural affinity to leadership. She struggled (a lot), and not just with her circumstances, but with her feelings and her own powers. She was awkward and often confused, but also determined and curious, and driven to do the right thing.
Some other strengths of this series are the twists and turns, the mysteries that make you stay up way too late because you have to know the answer, the incredibly unique settings and cast of characters and….hm? What’s that? What about Ophelia and Thorn, you say?
Okay, okay FINE you caught me. It’s true—I am a totally sucker for a good love story, and that was a major factor in keeping my attention for four books. Listen folks, the story of Ophelia and Thorn is a Slow. Burn. The slowest of slow burns. However, somehow the chemistry between Ophelia and Thorn is sizzling. And yet Ophelia doesn’t even admit her feelings for Thorn until the third book??? Dabos is a magician, making you wait and wait for the reveal of them being together, and yet you’re on the edge of your seat, perfectly enthralled in the waiting. Thorn and Ophelia are both in their own ways extremely socially awkward and unsure of how to express any sort of feeling in everyday life, much less when romance is included. However, they also compliment each other well, and their devotion to each other is really compelling. Any tender interaction they had gave me happy butterflies. In my opinion, this series probably could have used a lot more interaction between the two of them, as in each book they are often separated by one circumstance or another. Even after they are married, even after they have established their devotion, they are hardly together and that is a tragedy for me.
Overshadowing the beautifully awkward relationship of Ophelia and Thorn was the over-arching plot of the identity of God and the formation of the shattered world. If you haven’t read these books and came here not caring about spoilers—Yep, you read that right. God. I was taken aback as well. We pivot to this complicated uncovering of God’s history and intentions after the first book. This was quite a surprise to me, as I was most concerned about the court conspiracies and dangers that Ophelia was already going through at the Pole. Now, for the most part, I actually really enjoyed this creative and mysterious plot about God, the Family Spirits, the “Other” and Ophelia’s part in all of it. If you asked me what the answers to these mysteries are, I’m not sure I could fully tell you. The last book left me feeling a bit confused. Basically God was a woman named Eualia Gonde, who figured out how to turn her own echo into a sentient being, and switched places with it to save the world from endless war, ending up in a reverse world. This caused a cataclysmic event that created the Arks, because she took the parts of the world that were at war with her. Years and years later, Ophelia accidentally releases Gonde or “God” from this mirror world, creating an imbalance now that she and her Echo were both on the same side. Please don’t quote me on this, I’m only 90% sure that’s what happened.
This is a lot to unpack, and that is really only part of the story. I’m not going to try to explain all of it, because I don’t think I can, but honestly I think this plot got a bit too big, especially coming from the plot of the first book. I loved the mysterious aspect of it, and uncovering clues, but everything with the echoes was really confusing. With that being said, this plot was still super interesting, and very different from anything I have read before.
Okay, down to the one thing that almost ruins the series for me, and definitely ruins the end for me. The injustice that is Thorn’s ending. And this isn’t me being bitter because a character dies—He doesn’t even die! The entire time Ophelia (and the reader) knows Thorn, he is working to uncover the mystery of God. He wants to prevent the end of the world, and as he falls in love with Ophelia, he wants to punish the fiend who has threatened his wife’s life. (side note— Thorn’s protectiveness over Ophelia *swoon*) Thorn works towards this goal with a ferocity that puts his and Ophelia’s lives in constant danger. And it is the driving force that brings the two of them together, working towards stopping God and/or the ‘Other’. And what happens? Thorn doesn’t get to see the triumph over the ‘Other’ (it turns out the ‘Other’ was the real enemy all along…I think). Before the final confrontation that sees everything put back the way it is supposed to be, Thorn gets trapped in the mirror world. He helps drag the ‘Other’ back into the mirror world, but it is only a fleeting moment with no interaction with Ophelia. After three books, Ophelia and Thorn finally decide to completely work together in the final book, and when the moment comes, they are again separated. Even worse, Thorn does not come back before the book ends!! It is heavily implied that Ophelia will eventually find a way to release him so they can be together, but the reader doesn’t get to see it. Thorn’s entire goal in life is accomplished—his entire series arc is completed, and we don’t even get to see his reaction to any of it????? It’s pretty cruel. Why, Christelle, why?!
All in all, this series is completely worth your time! Does it have some confusing parts? Absolutely. However, Ophelia’s journey is enthralling and filled with unique twists and gorgeous world-building. The love story between her and Thorn is unlike any other. If you enjoy a fun fantasy world with adventure and a sprinkle of romance perfection, then you will love The Mirror Visitor Quartet!
Thanks for reading!