(Cover picture courtesy of Open Library.)
There is something wicked in the swamplands on the magical isle of Fincayra—an encroaching evil intent on destroying the land—and only young Merlin possesses the power to stop it.
Together with Hallia, the deer-woman Merlin has fallen in love with, he must embark on a journey through the haunted land that will test his knowledge and his courage to find his stolen sword.
But then Merlin discovers a magic mirror capable of altering a person’s destiny—and the visage he finds within the glass is someone he never imagined he’d see…
What if you could go back in time to talk with your younger self and warn him/her about impending danger? Or what if you could look into a mirror as a teenager and see the person you will become? Well, that’s what the mysterious mirror in the middle of the Haunted Marsh allows Merlin to do. But first he must travel to the very centre of the swamp with the deer-woman he loves in order to retrieve the sword Nimue stole from him.
“Mirrors, I assure you, can cause more pain than broadswords, more terror than ghouls.”
The novel’s prologue starts out with a haunting observation from Merlin looking back on his youth and it definitely sets the tone of the entire novel. Filled with mystery, despair and tragic prophecies while still managing to captivate readers, The Mirror of Merlin is my second-favourite book in The Lost Years of Merlin series, only surpassed by the first novel.
T. A. Barron’s world-building is second to none in the world of fantasy fiction. Filled with creatures from Celtic mythology as well as completely new creatures, it contains more diversity than many mainstream novels. Just the way all people are filled with both light and dark, Fincayra is populated with dark creatures like marsh ghouls but balanced out with good creatures like the ballymag. This is a nod to Merlin’s parentage as well; his evil father and his good mother give him a sort of symmetry.
Readers will cheer for Merlin every step of the way through his difficult quest and will be thrilled as more familiar elements from the Arthurian legends fall into place.
I give this book 5/5 stars.