Assumptions I held before reading this book:
Mermaids: beautiful young maiden, with fish like tails and long flowing hair
Mirrors: you like in them, you see yourself (and the room behind you) reflected in it.
Stone lions: they are solid, don't speak, don't move.
Mummys (Egyptian): a human wrapped up in bandages. Certainly no threat.
All of those assumptions have since been squashed. Mermaids aren't as pretty as you think. Mirrors - not only can you enter them, with the right equipment, but things live in them. What things? I'm not telling. Stone lions protect the elite of Venice, and can fly. They're bred for that, although they weren't always that way. Mummys: are a formiddable enemy.
Young Merle is apprenticed, with her blind friend Junipa to the mirror maker Arcimboldo. She makes friends with the enemy: a weaver apprentice, who used to be a Master Thief.. She has a special mirror, that's not made of glass. She keeps this a secret from the strange Arcimboldo, and learns a little about it in this part of the trilogy. She makes friends with a mermaid and a stone lion, thanks to a connection with the Flowing Queen, a being who protected Venice up until recently. The Flowing Queen's life is at stake, and with it protection against Venice's enemies. Merle has to trust all the voice in her head, and perform acts she'd rather not do.
What are Arcimboldo's true motives? Why is one stone lion locked up in prison? How does Junipa get her sight back? Read it to find out. I'm eager to read the second installment that's lying on my TBR pile.