The Egyptian Mirror

Pajama Pr. Mar. 2021. 288p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772781106.
Gr 4-7–Simon hasn’t been the same since he looked into Mr. Hawkins’s antique mirror. When unnerving visions and a confounding new illness leave Simon feeling inexplicably changed, he begins hunting down answers. Mr. Hawkins, once an archeologist, discloses that ancient Egyptian people used to believe mirrors could capture a person’s soul. Now, Simon finds himself having to quickly solve a puzzle that involves the ancient mirror and his mysterious new neighbor before his visions get worse. Bedard’s story is an intriguing premise that doesn’t quite hit its mark. The canny reader will notice that the simplistic characters are not in a contemporary setting, but might have a difficult time placing them properly in the 1980s from the scant references (such as Jesse Barfield and transistor radios). Simon’s promising mission to uncover the mystery of the Egyptian mirror is bogged down by drawn-out chapters where time flies (months pass); yet the narrative yields little progress because of his illness. Throughout the majority of the novel, the reader believes Simon’s illness has a supernatural origin. However, he’s diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome right at the novel’s conclusion, something that deserves to be explored in depth or reworked entirely to suit the historical, supernatural theme.
VERDICT What should be a dark, exciting mystery is overshadowed with a lackluster narrative, providing an adequate but humdrum tale.

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