My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As is usual, I received this book through some mechanism by which I didn’t actually have to pay for it. The author approached me for a review and true to that desire I give my honest opinions below.
The plot of this little novel is fairly standard escapist juvenile literature. A young girl finds a mirror and uses it to travel to another time and place and thereupon has adventures of an educational variety as she witnesses an the fall of Constantinople.
Since this is youth literature, I judge it by two basic criteria. The first centers around what age group of children would actually wish to read it and find it engaging. The second amounts to whether I would want my own children to be exposed to the content.
On the first criterion, like the other books in this series, it was a bit of a tough sell. My 8 and 14-year-old have been somewhat dubious. The elder seems to reject it on the basis that it is rather a standard formula that many previous books have followed. The younger takes far too many cues from the elder and has never heard of Constantinople so it’s hard for it to get its hooks into her properly. These books have the curious property that they’re written for teens but because of the subject matter tend to appeal more directly to adults who have some sense of the history involved.
As to the second stated criterion, the content is exactly the sort of thing you’d want out of children’s literature. It’s extraordinarily educational and devoid of sex, drugs and so much of what corrupts teen novels these days. It does have a fair amount of violence but again, we’re talking about a war, so it cannot be completely sanitized.
In summary, Murray takes us on yet another educational romp through history. This is one that I’d like the kids to read but just can’t seem to make that happen no matter my best efforts. As always, she touches on an important episode from history and is so kind as to remind us that the other side of the world has history too.