The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee is a garden of horror and delight 

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee is a garden of horror and delight 

I’ve read a lot of strange things in my life, but I’ve never read anything this weird.  That isn’t to say that I didn’t like it, but it is definitely a niche read for an audience who doesn’t mind a lot of macabre in their lace trimmed Victorian fairy tale.  The intricate language is tiresome, but if you want the horror and delight of a strangely evocative nightmare, this is a book for you.  Think Sweeney Todd and scary Alice in Wonderland.  This is not what I would consider YA, but it might appeal to the more adventerous YA reader. This book publishes on June 2, 2015.

Goodreads Summary

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down… 

My Thoughts

While this book isn’t for everyone, it was an intriguing work for fans of the strangely beautiful and horrifyingly unusual.  It creates an interesting juxtaposition of enchanting and dreadful for the literary adventurer, and both the prose and plot contribute to the feeling of tipping between the sweetest dream and the most ghastly nightmare.  While Mirror and Goliath are the titular characters, the narrative structure works harder to parallel the inner clockwork of John Loveheart. Readers will find the ever shifting sands of the story draw both disgust and grudging adoration for the enigmatic Loveheart, and he is really the heart of the story.  While the narrative winds and turns back on itself, leaving some characters to an uncertain fate until it loops back around, it added to the funhouse carnival disorientation, and it really wasn’t too hard to pinpoint the timeline once you had the knack of it.   I will say that I was annoyed by the prose at times.  Sometimes it became the incoherent babble of madness to illustrate a character’s rotten inner workings, but at others, it really was just overindulgent.  Victorian whimsy and wonderland madness soften the gruesome aspects to some degree, but readers should be prepared for some rather appalling behavior from the the deceptively genteel characters who populate Ishbelle Bee’s London.  I haven’t ever read anything like it, but I think if you were mesmerized by Louis Carroll’s Wonderland or unnaturally intrigued and delighted by the most grim fates in the traditional fairytales, this is your book.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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