Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay

The Mirror Thief combines the stories of three men in three iterations of Venice and in three very different eras. The story begins in 2003 with a fairly straightforward account of Curtis, a former marine turned hired gun, who travels to Las Vegas in search of infamous gambler Stanley Glass. While there, Curtis discovers that finding Stanley is going to be much harder than he thought. In fact, all he can find of Stanley are whispers and an old book of poems called The Mirror Thief. The story shifts to Venice Beach in 1958 when Stanley is a young man stealing and grifting around town while searching for the author of a book of poems about Crivano, a 16th Century physician in Venice on a clandestine mission to steal famous mirror makers away to the Ottoman Empire. Crivano turns out to be a scheming, murderous man with questionable allegiances. He stalks the streets of Venice turning allies into foes and foes into allies at every turn. As these three men’s lives wind around one another, a story unfolds that combines philosophy, magic, history, and alchemy in unforeseen and delightful ways.

Seay’s debut novel is a house of mirrors full of magical realism, reminiscent of David Mitchell or Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. He was able to create wholly unlikeable characters with whom the reader can still empathize and become invested in their lives and stories, a difficult feat.
Rarely do I finish a book and immediately want to start it again right away, but The Mirror Thief had so many subtle hints and hidden gems that I wanted to go back and suss them out. I can’t wait to see what Martin Seay comes up with next.

-Portia Kapraun

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