Written by Scotty
It has to be the most difficult for orphans when they are growing up, not knowing what or where they came from. The search for their history can lead them in different directions than they could have thought, but once they find out about their origins, are they happy that they have done so? Knowing where you come from is something that many of us take for granted, but if we were put into the same situation, would we want to know about our family’s past, or would we be content following in the footsteps of our guardians?
Sir James Monmouth has been traveling the world in the footsteps of his hero, Conrad Vane. Without knowing much about his history, Monmouth is looking to put the missing pieces together in his travels. Being brought up by a guardian when he was a young man, he tried to find someone different that he could emulate later in life, and after finding the diaries of Vane, he has never looked back.
With his next trip taking him to England, James is looking for the old book store Vane spoke about in one of his adventures. After meeting the owner, Monmouth is invited to dinner and although the family seems nice enough, they seem to want the man to stop with his hunt for information on the old traveler. Being told that there was a dark side to Vane’s story that no one is willing to tell outright, Monmouth is more intrigued than ever on his hunt. Thanking the family for their hospitality, Monmouth moves on to the place where he is guaranteed to find some information, Vane’s old school.
Meeting with the Dean of students, Monmouth is welcomed with open arms and given all of the access to anything that has a listing of Vane’s name on the grounds, but his quarters seem out of the ordinary. When arriving in his room that he will be staying in until his studies are done, Monmouth notices that the mirror will not show his complete reflection. Thinking that it has to do with the cold weather outside, he continues his hunt on information about the old adventurer. On the first night however, Monmouth has a hard time sleeping and follows the sounds of a weeping boy into the library. Not being able to pinpoint where the sound is coming from, he then discovers that he is not alone in the old building, but there is someone walking on the levels above him, welding a lantern. Once again, Monmouth believes this is a normal person, perhaps the school's porter making his rounds, but when leaving the library, he finds that the only footprints in the snow are his own.
As Christmas rolls around, Monmouth has received an invite from the Quincebridge family to be their guest for the holiday. With no family of his own to speak of, Monmouth decides to attend and finds that they are very happy to receive him. Although they do not have much information on Conrad Vane, they too try to deter his studies into the old man, saying that only evil follows what he has touched. When saying at their home, Monmouth falls ill and has to stay with them for some time. As the weeks turn into months, Monmouth wants to get back on his feet and continue his investigation of Vane’s life. But a letter comes in from a family friend that is out in the country that there is possibly another person of his family living in a further away town. With the last name Monmouth, James turns his gaze from the adventurer to a possible family member who may be able to tell him something of his original heritage.
The Mist in the Mirror follows Sir James Monmouth as he is looking for all of the history he can find on his hero, Conrad Vane. With nobody willing to talk with him about the old adventurer, Monmouth has to find a way to find the information for himself. With roadblocks being placed in front of him at every turn by the people he speaks with and a pale, ghostly boy following his every move, Monmouth has become more obsessed with his search than he has ever been before. Finding a little bit of information in Vane’s old school library, Monmouth finds something else that makes his mind spin, the listing of a relative that has died on the campus. Wanting to take his quest further, he takes some time away to attend a Christmas gathering with a new friend, but shortly after falls violently ill and has to end his quest for a time. But when he receives word that there is a woman of his own name living in a town near the country, Monmouth is reenergized to find her, as she may be the only surviving member of his family and he would like any sort of answers about his past he can find. Making his trek up to the town is not easy as the storms stay strong, and he is not fully recovered from his illness and the ghostly boy is still following his every step. Making it to her house might be the best thing he has ever accomplished, but will he be able to leave once entering it?
Susan Hill is able to suck you into the story by giving you some subtle scares and then tying it all together in the end. Although you get detoured, just like your main character, you are not able to see what is hiding around the corner. I really enjoyed how it starts to pull you in on this one main storyline, but takes a different turn altogether once you think you have figured it out. I could almost feel the pain of Sir James as he is only trying to find out the truth about his hero, then his family, both that have been lost in time, with nobody willing to give any insight. Stay Scared.