Customer Reviews: Shattered Mirror (Den of Shadows)
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on March 16, 2004
Let's start on a positive note. This is the best of Atwater-Rhodes's first four books. Unfortunately, that really isn't saying too much.
Sarah Tigress Vida (TIGRESS?!) is a vampire hunter and the youngest in a long line of powerful witches. A constant disappointment to her mother and older sister, Sarah wants desperately to please them. However, that would involve having to lock away any and all emotion she possesses, something Sarah can't seem to do. Actually, the only emotion Sarah displays for nearly the entire book is a kind of pouty-punk 'look at how much of a brave and misunderstood tough girl I am' attitude. Oy. Then she meets the new vampires at school. Despite her initial feelings of 'get away from me', Sarah grows to like them. These vampires are gentle, peaceful, so weak most witches wouldn't identify them as vampires. They don't kill to feed. The boy Christopher soon starts sending her roses and poetry.
Note: I still don't buy the whole vampires going to high school thing. Yeah, they say they have to remember humanity, but there are other ways. Trust me, it just takes a calculus class at eight in the morning to reveal the darker side of human nature.
Then Sarah's sister finds out about the vamps, it's suddenly revealed that Christopher's twin brother is Nikolas, the most feared vampire in history (I have no idea how he got that title, since he only shows kindness to his followers), and there's a ridiculous and useless subplot about a kid whose sister is under Nikolas's spell, except she was really hypnotized by another vamp.
The book ends in typical Atwater-Rhodes fashion. I can't tell you exactly what happens, but it seems vampires are the favorite creatures in Atwater- Rhodes's world, and that's what makes this so ludicrous. The author provides us with heavy- handed metaphors about the lack of black or white, good or evil in the world, but from what I've seen she loves her vampires and apparently dislikes her witches. Dominique, Sarah's mother, is a one-note, robot like character who comes in a couple of times to basically tell Sarah she hates her, and all the vampires, except for the 'real' villain (a cackling stereotype) are really sweet. If nothing is black or white, that 'profound' idea should apply to every character in a book, as opposed to a handful of main characters.
My other gripes: all vampires are teenagers. Why? The dialogue ranges from wooden to puzzling to being outright absurd. (I remember some bit when Nikolas offers Christopher blood; he criticizes Christopher's desire for blood and his refusal thus: ' Would a starving man refuse a chicken dinner, simply because he was vegetarian?' We know when dialogue sounds right. This bombs.) The story is neither forward nor enthralling. And everyone looks like a freaking supermodel.
This IS Atwater-Rhodes's best of the first four books, since she creates a fairly credible love story built upon something more than looks and hormones. However, that doesn't keep it from being a ridiculous and tedious book.
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I have recently reread all of the Amelia Atwater-Rhodes books in preparation for the third installment in the Keisha'ra series (beginning with Hawksong, then Snakecharm, and then the not-yet-released Falcondance). I was really dreading, to tell you the truth, reading Shattered Mirror all over again, and thought it to be the young authors worst offering yet. I remember being disgusted since it basically had the exact same ending as Demon in My View. But now I understand that their are really only two kinds of endings for the novellas Miss Rhodes writes.

1) Our protagonist-always a mysterious beauty- ends up giving into her feelings for the vampiric love interest, or has to because of impending death, and, so, becomes one of the undead. Or

2) Doesn't become a vamp. Simple as that.

The writting in 'Mirror' is the best out of the authors previous two, although not perfect by far. She writes unrealistic fight-scene dialoge and that can really gets on my nerves. We know she has an advanced vocabulary, so it really makes me wonder why she has to use prose-worthy speeches and dry wit within such chapters that deal with fights. It's so annoying!

Okay, only one more. AAR never fails to get under my skin, when describing her characters. They're always mysterious, dark, and beautiful in a goth, black-out sort of way. Aren't there any fat and ugly or just plain average-looking vampires? Or even humans for that matter?

But all in all, the book was good. The characters were intersting, especially the Ravaena siblings, and I hope AAR writes more about them in the future.

R, your friendly neighborhood reviewer.
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For seventeen-year-old Sarah, the world has always been a black and white place, where a distinct line exists between good and evil. The humans are good. The vampires are evil. And in between exists the witches, who use their powers to protect humanity by killing vampires. As the youngest daughter of the Vida line, Sarah has been trained nearly all her life as a vampire hunter. On her first day at a new school, Sarah recognizes a brother and sister, Christopher and Nissa, as vampires, but the pair, who no longer kill to feed, are too weak to sense who she is. At first, she views the pair as dangerous, but she comes to realize that they have managed to keep some part of their humanity. But in the process of hunting down Nikolas, an evil vampire the Vidas have sworn to destroy since the day he killed one of their own over a hundred years ago, she discovers just how dark Christopher's past is. Fans of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes previous two books are sure to enjoy this one as well.
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on September 12, 2001
Shattered Mirror is the sequel to two other books by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, In the Forests of the Night and Demon In My View, her first and second published books respectively. This surpases both in length and plot, in my opinion.
While I found Demon in My View more satisfying at the end, Shattered Mirror had many layers that made it superior. For one thing, technique. The story is much more straightforward and in some places more easily understood. This is not to say there were not a few flaws, but every good book must have flaws to make it endearing.
Interesting to note: The first segment of Shattered Mirror brought back feelings of many Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes and fanfiction pieces. It was not a plaguirism, but a borrowing of atmosphere. And the fact that the main character was kicked out of school for damaging school property while slaying, I mean HUNTING, vampires doesn't hurt, either.
One problem with the writing of Amelia is shared with many, including her influence, Anne Rice. The weakness of the third act. Now, while Anne Rice's sometimes can seem lengthy and dysfunctional at moments, Amelia's have each been extremely brief, and leaving questions to be answered. Even through the two sequels, none so far, except in this book the witch Caryn plays a part explaining her circumstances, have answered any. I still wonder for Risika(from ITFotN) what exactly went on with her brother. You would think they would explain in the most closely related book, Demon in My View, what went on. Nothing offered, nothing received. And Jessica and Aubrey? Not even a mention this outing.
Now, none of these are specific critisisms of Shattered Mirror as much as the series as a whole. Only one critisism really holds true to this book, though it is not a fatal flaw. The ending does not satisfy. The "surprise," while it caught me off guard, it probably will not startle many. And I don't find myself any happier for the character. Her views may have changed, but she become no more or less likable. Unfortunate, really, for such a promising outing, to have to mention that. But again, definitely not a horrible problem. This book is definitely worth taking a look at, maybe several, even if you're buying it just for the fact that Amelia is a teen author.
A final note: I'm glad not to have to say negative anything about length. While maybe a page or two could have been added near the ending, this book was a fine length, fully exploring the main points of the story, and not leaving you feeling cheated for length as the previous two may have. I hope with each book the pages become more plentiful, but only if the story calls for it. That will, of course, be for Amelia to decide.
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on November 18, 2001
That is what I am doing- mourning for all the trees cut down to create the paper to hold this piece of tripe work. This plot went no where. The characters are weak yet they are played up, or told to others, that they are some of the strongest in their lines. Once more, like Forests and Demon, Amelia gives us cahracters for one paragraph (or sentence!) names them, and then never speaks of them again. Great if she's going to talk about them in later books, but by then I think I might have gone and destroyed her computer so that she doesn't send any more manuscripts to her editors at Random House and cut down another rainforest!
Sarah Vida is annoying- she has a cool car, an evil mother, and she hates vampires. Oh but wait... nope, she loves Christopher, the vampire. The artiste.
Gag me.
This is just awful. Spare yourself the time and wasted money and energy and just put the book down! The ending is precisely the same as the predecessor, Demon in My View. I'm completely tired of seeing "perfect" people turned into vampires by vamps who were once their enemy.
I wish that more talented young authors would get the recognition they deserve. I have read two great works by two young authors (one another vampire writer hopeful) who are struggling to make it when Amelia is sitting here writing stuff that makes me feel less intelligent for having read it in the first place.
I fear Midnight Predator, Amelia's fourth outing due in May. I hear it has something to do with the Bruja Guild of vampire hunters going into a place called Midnight to kill a woman vampire named Jeshickah and her right-hand vamp, Jaguar (too close to Jager if you ask me. Get some more original names, please!). But the main characters, one Turquoise Draka and Ravyn Aniketos, are enemies working together, selling themselves in as human slaves, which these vampires seem to use. My question- where are the police with all of this stuff? Are we even on earth anymore? She should just make her own planet or make it more believable. That's what most people want out of a vampire story- the horrorific fear that it COULD be true.
Though, the way most of her characters whine and throw tantrums, hers being real might be far more frightening.
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on February 28, 2003
This book is the best Amelia Atwater-Rhodes book ever! And maybe even on the top 5 list of my all time favorite books!
Sarah Vida is a young witch of the Vida line, the strongest and cruelest of all daughters of Macht. All of the Vida line are sworn never to befriend vampires, and to track down vampires to kill them. But however she tries to be like her self-controled mother, or her sister, she never can be a true cold blooded killer.
When she moves into a new neighborhood, she meets two vmapires and her school- Christopher and Nissa Ravena. They are highly artistic, kind, and weak; the kind that would never be a danger to her. When her sister, Adianna, finds out, her problems get worse. And to all that, she must tell Christopher that he must desert her, even though they love each other.
But the worst is yet to come. Hunting Nikolas, a infamous vampire, murderer of Elisabeth Vida, and totally deadly; she finds out the terrible secret. Nikolas is Christopher's brother. Happenings with a tormented teenage girl, a Halloween dance, and a couple of bashes in between, leads to a choice that might change the course of the Vida line forever.
I loved this book so much because mainly two characters: Nikolas and Christopher. Nikolas is sort of like Jaguar, deadly and icy-cold, yet loyal and caring. I was also fasinated by his apperence-black and white. His tenderness to his brother and Christine, and his deadly coolness towards Sarah and witches.
Christopher is a totally different person altogether. People at first sight think he's weaker than Nikolas, but his iron self-control and devotion towards Sarah make him a great character.
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on July 9, 2002
This book unfolds around Sarah, youngest daughter of the Vida Line. In this story, vampires are bad, humans are good..and witches are in between. The witches job is to slay vampires to protect the human race. Sarah, has been trained nearly all her life to slay vampires.Tthe first day of school she senses two people as vampires. Nissa and Christopher, who are too weak to sense Sarah's powers. She first takes the impression that they are dangerous but soon she realizes then are not. As this book continues you'll realize many things. Although this book seems confusing from time to time, the plot is awesome and will have you guessing. I think if you enjoyed other books by this author, like I'll find Shattered Mirror just as great!
I highly recomend this for the Atwater fans, and I know there are plenty. Other books that are awesome, written by Amelia Atwater Rhodes are : In the Forests of the Night, Night Predator, and Demon in my View. I can't wait for this author to write and publish more!
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on October 19, 2001
I like the fact that she admires Anne Rice but the thing is her books are too much like Anne Rice's material and other auhors work. She needs more depth in her work and originality. Too much originality can be bad but her ideas have already been used and all she does is put it in different words. You can't relate to any of her characters.
There are penty of horror writers with the talent who should be published rather then Amelia. have read unpublished work by many and yet they are very talented but haven't had any luck with publishing. She's just a weapon for Random Houe of "good publicity" and they buy her work because o her age. Just because she is a teen that doesn't make her a good writer.
A good writer speaks fom their soul not from other writers point of views. She may be big right now, but wht happens when someone her age gets published? She will be yesterdays news and no longer prased for her "age" when she should be praised for talent. Talent matters and she just doesn't have it, or I haven't seen it yet from her. The only talent she shows is that she can rewrite something by another author making it sound worse.
As far as the length of her book I would expect her to write atleast two o three novels a "year" anyone could write that much within one or two months and maybe less. No if she was like anne rice writing a six or seven hundred page with 90,000-130,000 words then I could see why she wries on book a year.
I'll just be satisfied the day a writer like Ameia comes out only with more talent and show what it mean to really get in touch with their readers. Amelia needs a lot more voice. Writing isn't something you can just pass on, writing a novel is a challenge for everyone including novelist.
I read in one interview of Amelia that she doesn't structure or outline her story, well, it would help a lot Amelia. You could do better if you actually thought the plotline out. Plotting outa story on a piece of paper helps a LOT.
I pity you if you are praising her for her age rather then talent. I envy her for the fact there are more writers who deserve her spot with more talent then she carries. I will pray her next book has more taste and voice or I think I may just kill myself.
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Despite the fact that I was dissatisfied by "Forests of the Night," and heartily disliked "Demon in my View," I picked up "Shattered Mirror" and braced myself. I must have a streak of masochism -- or I just have an optimistic hope that Atwater-Rhodes improve. She definitely can, but her books have been getting worse as they've increased in size.
Sarah Tigress Vida ("Tigress"?) is a vampire slay... I mean, a vampire HUNTER, who generally stalks around vampire lairs with silver knives (I thought silver was supposed to affect werewolves, not vampires?) and kills vampires when she can. Her mother is Dominique Vida, a character mentioned in "Demon"; her father was killed when she was seven, an event that traumatized her, and her sister Adrianna thinks she's treading into dangerous turf. Sarah has every intention of capturing a particularly vicious vampire named Nikolas, who gets his kicks (and his followers) by carving his name into their arms.
Sarah befriends Christopher and Nissa, a pair of young vampires who apparently don't attack humans. Christopher is sweet, writes poetry, and is completely smitten with Sarah (whoa, what a surprise. Anyone else see this coming? Why is it that people of the opposite sexes in this imaginary world either despise each other or fall in love?)
Unfortunately, her fellow witches (Adrianna in particular) have a problem with this -- their law forbids it, and Dominique is an ice-cold walking punishment. But as Sarah hunts down Nikolas, she treads a dangerous line between the vampire world, where her love interest still is bound, and the world of the witches where she may become an outcast as she tries to hunt down a ruthless vampire killer.
Mary-Sueism strikes again; after dealing with the amoral and unsympathetic Jessica in "Demon," we must deal with gorgeous blond toughie Sarah, who is slightly more sympathetic than Jessica and who thankfully is not a teen vampire author. But the only vulnerability we see in her is never exploited, and we see few insecurities, leaving her a Buffy-clone with little personality. Christopher could have been the most intriguing character of all, but Atwater-Rhodes spends so little time on him that it's hard to see what motivates him except guilt. Oh, and his poetry isn't so good. (He rhymes "light" with "night." I rhyme it with "trite") Nissa is slightly more explanatory, given her anecdotes to Sarah, but sadly we don't see much after that meeting. Adrianna is a typical tattler, and Dominique is a two-dimensional ... well, amazon won't let me use the word. It rhymes with "itch," though.
The only truly three-dimensional character is Nikolas, oddly enough. Though initially portrayed as a psychopath, he is a killer but not a monster. These moral question marks are just screaming to be explored in more depth, but she leaves them dangling. The last quarter of the book happens too fast, as does the so-so relationship between Sarah and Christopher (whom she distrusted and then beat up during the course of the book).
And one of the twists leaves the reader unsatisfied--didn't we see this event in "Demon"? Has she taken to ripping herself off?
Perhaps Atwater-Rhodes' biggest problem is pandering to the basic teen market. Her first book was somewhat unique in that it featured a lead character who stays in the shadows, and no romance. After that, however, she has lapsed into tepid teen romances and lead characters in high-school. (Why the heck would vampires attend a high school?)
Another note: All of her lead human/witch characters are teens, the vampires were all changed as teenagers. All of them are gorgeous, or at least charismatic (this charisma often didn't reach the reader) and most of them do act like spoiled teens. And how many 17-year-olds have sapphire Jaguars? Other problems include the fact that Miss Atwater-Rhodes is starting to inject her religion into this: Wicca. This detracts from the mystery of the non-human witches, by grounding them in a very human religion.
Miss Atwater-Rhodes has talent, and she has imagination. Her first book displays this.
I'll keep hoping that Atwater-Rhodes improves her stories, and creates a lead character like Risika who is not a pale copy of her or Buffy, and a universe populated by intriguing and original species who are carefully shown in the detail they deserve.
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on June 24, 2002
This book was sort of different than Atwater-Rhodes first two books, but equally as satisying. Sarah Vida, daughter of the leader of one of the most dangerous witch families, is an avid vampire hunter. She is currently following a vampire party circuit, and she gets launched into it in a way that violate all of the witch laws and the twists and turns of this novel surprised me thoroughly. In this book Atwater-Rhodes veers off her course of describing the lives of the more powerful of the vampires, instead describing the lives of the more viscious vampires, but less powerful. the ending was mildly disappointing, but the rest of the book more than made up for it. I was sort of hoping that Ms. Atwater-Rhodes would write about one of the older vampires, such as Fala, Jager, Ather, or even Silver himself. But if you want an action-packed novel with suspense and excitement, then this should be your pick!!
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