5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Clever and Compelling,
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This review is from: Prospero's Mirror (Kindle Edition)
If you enjoy a ghost story you will surely enjoy Prospero's Mirror. From its cover art and opening pages you might think of it as an "Oxbridge Novel". And in one way it is - as an imaginary Oxford College provides the backdrop - but in many ways it isn't. This is not about the teenage angst and life journey of a Brideshead Revisited or Glittering Prizes. This is about creaking floorboards, sinister characters, unexplained events and evil that transcends time. It is a classic, scary camp fire tale. And it is done well - mixing fact and fiction to keep you reading
You can tell the author enjoyed researching and structuring this complex narrative. And, fortunately the reader enjoys it as well. It has something of the appeal of a Tom Stoppard play which flatters its audience to use their knowledge and offers up literary, political, philosophical and historical references.
The setting is the slightly archly named Old College, Oxford which is so obviously standing in for New College. This is to the extent that the story, which jumps about in time in a satisfying and well structured fashion, names Reverend Spooner to have been Warden before the First World War which of course was the role of the real the inspiration of the Spoonerism. Indeed the main protagonist of the novel is the real and renowned ghost story writer and academic M.R. James. An example of his, presumably out of copyright, work is added as a bonus at the end of the book.
The plot takes us from the run up to World War Two with side mentions for Roosevelt and Himmler, via the horrors of the Black Death to an Elizabethan alchemist whose influence on Shakespeare gives us the book's title which refer to an artefact which is the central element of the plot.
For aficionados of the genre this has a bit of everything. For those who are new to this style the book is a gateway to a literary form which may soon enjoy a new lease of life.
To sum it up this book is clever and compelling.