Alice in Wonderland meets Creepy Historical Steampunk meets Acid Trip Penny Dreadful(s). That is how I would describe The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath.
I did not like this novel. I found it disjointed and hard to follow. It followed each of the many characters in a diary type narrative but did not change voice for any of them. In addition, it also traverses time and characters in an nonlinear fashion with no introduction into the sudden change and no change in tense. There was also zero world building and/or world introduction.
That being said, the individual stories found in this book were mostly enjoyable if taken as an essay rather than as part of a book.
…something is inside of me, like the red flowers inside the princess. Something that is not human.
Mirror is a young girl with a BIG problem. Her grandfather stuffed her inside of a weird clock for hours; and when she came out her grandfather had killed both her sisters and she was not quite human.
You are a very wealthy gentleman. You are rich as a prince, but you have never lived the life of a prince. You are trying to help her; you are trying to find someone who can help her… You must keep her away from clocks and mirrors. She has power over them.
Goliath is a mammoth of a man who protects Mirror. Having rescued from the grandfather clock she was trapped in, he has taken it upon himself to see that nothing bad happens to her. He also searches for a way to heal her of her strange affliction.
My name is John Loveheart and I was not born wicked. When I was a child, I was taken away from my home by a demon. I was taken away to the kingdom of the dead. When I came back to Earth I could not look into mirrors, for my eyes were black. The colour of dead things.
John Loveheart is in the service of a demon. He is tasked with hunting Mirror down so that his demon can consume what is inside of her. But John Loveheart is an odd fellow. He may have been raised to do evil, but he will do evil in the way that best suits himself.
So character development was pretty much nonexistent. You are given the past of each of these characters and other more minor characters in the serialized chapters that I mentioned earlier (penny dreadful.) It would be enough for a short story or a long essay, but leaves much to be desired in terms of a novel.
Deus ex machina.
Though as of yet the child Mirror seems to have shown zero symptoms of being abnormal, she FEELS that something is not right inside of her. Thus, FOR NO REASON, she and her companion Goliath return to England to seek a “cure” for her mysterious aliment.
(To be perfectly frank, I did not understand why they would leave a home they both love in order to perform a wild goose chase against something that has yet to be problematic…but onwards with the plot.)
During their attempts to figure out what is wrong with the child, she becomes the target of a demon that has been unknowingly hunting her for years. Well…not her so much as the clock. But then the clock drove her grandpa bonkers and she became possessed with what was imprisoned inside of the clock and well now she is a target for a demon dinner time.
Luckily this child randomly gave her companion the ability to shape-shift into various animals at will. Another “as luck would have it” for her is that the personifications of Time and Death do not want the demon to gain more power. Apparently it would upset the balance of things. (view spoiler)
Deus FREAKING ex machina. That describes how this child gets out of her various unfortunate events and (view spoiler).
If my review seems half-hearted and annoyed, it is because this book was poorly executed. The story lines were randomly thrown together with no world or character development. There was just nothing holding this story together. This has been introduced as a dark adult fairy-tale. Well I do not buy it. Dark, yes. Adult, yes. Fairy-tale? Uh, no. Tossing magic and weirdness into a book does not fairy-tale make. If the author was going for Lemony Snicket-esque tale, she came up short.
To me this book was more like a deck of cards that was thrown on the floor and not put back in order. In fact, a card or two might have slipped under the couch and later been eaten by the vacuum cleaner.