Good morning, readers! I'm part of the TLC book tour for Debra Dean's The Mirrored World today.
I read Debra Dean's The Madonna's of Leningrad when it was originally released and really loved the historical aspects of the story. The modern day thread was very hard for me to read emotionally. It was kind of heart wrenching to be honest but I was definitely interested in reading more from Dean. It's been a few years coming, but The Mirrored World is out now.
Dasha and her cousin Xenia were raised together almost like sisters. Now, all grown up, Dasha recounts their life together.
Xenia was like any other child -- almost. She had an uncanny prescience, sometimes able to predict certain things simply based on her dreams. When she met and fell madly in love with Andrei, her life seemed complete. They longed for children and when they finally conceived it seemed as though Xenia would have everything she dreamed. Life had other plans. Tragedy struck and Xenia retreated into herself. Dasha tried desperately to help, but when Xenia finally emerged she became fixated on helping those in need, finally giving away all of her possessions. She would disappear from Dasha's life only to be discovered wandering the most destitute area of the city, clothed in her husband's uniform and spouting predictions and helping those around her.
Here's a bit from the author herself about the book:
Like Madonnas, The Mirrored World as historical fiction is fantastic. The images of eighteenth century Russia -- especially the whims and excesses of the royal family -- are fascinating and richly portrayed. But, again like Madonnas, I found Xenia and Dasha's story very sad.
Perhaps it's something that comes with age. I can recall as a teen being utterly disappointed in coming to the end of Gone With the Wind (the movie). By the time I was in my twenties I'd gone from loathing it to adoring it. Similarly, while both Madonnas and Mirrored World deal with undoubtedly woeful subjects, I can see how the stories would be considered less melancholy by other readers. By the end of Mirrored World Xenia herself is in a much more peaceful, if not outright happy, place and I think even Dasha has come to appreciate this as well.
All that said, I kind of wish that Mirrored World had been about twice as long as it actually was. It's a very slim read -- and a quick one at that. I would have loved for parts of the story to have been fleshed out more. By the the end of the story everything wraps up very quickly. In truth, Catherine's fear of Xenia is barely touched on at all.
For more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. You can also like Debra's Facebook page here.