The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay


In the vein of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, comes The Mirror Thief!

Three stories, one ending. A work of art constructed by words alone. The Mirror Thief is the kind of book you won’t likely come across again, not in this century.

From the very first word, I was hooked. ‘Listen.’ A sense of quiet descends as reality fades away and all that is left are the words on the page. ‘This is what you see:’ It is more of a command than a description of a story, and one that cannot be ignored. A kind of hypnotic state is induced by Seay’s clever use of prose and we are absorbed into it, for better or for worse.

Soaked in mystery and suspense, we find out what the character in the opening chapter is waiting for…

‘…the lovely soliderboy sniffing your trail from the narrow streets, who’s worked so hard and come so far just to kill you.’

Written in a mix of present tense and first person narrative, and reminiscent of a stream of consciousness, we are taken deep into the mind-set of the character we are reading about and for a short while we embody them, making the story that much more intense and realistic.

From there we are taken on a roller coaster-ride across three centuries and two continents. Each story is separate but connected by a common thread. A collection of poetry called The Mirror Thief, created by a fictional writer named Adrian Welles, which becomes the profound obsession of each character in Martin Seay’s story. Welles’ book is set in 16th century Venice and tells the story of a Venetian alchemist who schemes to smuggle two legendary mirrors out of the country. In that period, Venetian glass was one of the world’s most miraculous inventions; whether the mirror reflected reality or something more spiritual was up for debate.  One of Seay’s characters even believes that the book is a map which holds the key to transporting him to another world…

I do relish themes of ‘not everything is as it seems’ and the concepts of reflections and mirrors in depicting the truth. Mirrors tend to evoke a sense of mystery and the suggestion of stepping into another world, which has been used as a literary device in most popular fairy tales and classics such as, Snow White and Alice in Wonderland. A kind of fascination begins to take place when we gaze into the depths of a mirror. In our most private moments (and I’m sure everyone is guilty of doing this at one point or another), we try to see signs of dark elements or wicked secrets lurking deep inside of us. Have our sinful desires suddenly become open for all to see? The characters in The Mirror Thief explore the idea of one’s identity and the clarity of awareness throughout the novel, as they frequently become distracted by seeing miniature versions of themselves in another’s eyes or spectacles.

If, like me, you’ve become tired of word garbage and predictable story lines, The Mirror Thief will provide that unique and intellectual read that you’ve been looking for. Don’t be disillusioned by the cover, this is not YA but crime, history and literary gusto. Martin Seay’s debut novel will make for an enthralling read that will keep your brain ticking. Absolutely mesmerising, deliciously provocative, and almost painful in its intricate beauty, The Mirror Thief will make for one whirlwind of a read!


High praise from Publishers Weekly

“A true delight, a big, beautiful cabinet of wonders that is by turns an ominous modern thriller, a supernatural mystery, and an enchanting historical adventure story…  A splendid masterpiece, to be loved like a long-lost friend, an epic with near-universal appeal.”

Publishers Weekly starred review


The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay is published by Melville House on 30th March 2017

(£9.99, p/b, 592pp, 9780993414985)

Post by Sarah