Holds Alert: The Mirror Thief

9781612195148_5ff48Rising on Amazon on the strength of coverage in the NYT’s Sunday Book Review and NPR is The Mirror Thief, Martin Seay (Melville House; OverDrive Sample).

The reviews lavish it with praise. The NYT reviewer, the author Scarlett Thomas, says she “had been planning my glowing review since around Page 150” and that it is “audaciously well written.”

NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, says it is a “thrilling dynamo of a novel [by] a tremendous writer … a startling, beautiful gem of a book that at times approaches a masterpiece.”

What is it about? Neither reviewer wants to say, as too much detail gives away the book’s pleasures and it is a hard book to write about, but Thomas calls it “mystical literary fiction with a hard edge” and offers:

“How could I express that while this novel seems on the surface to be a bit like Cloud Atlas (multiple perspectives, Russian doll structure), it’s more heartfelt, deeper, less of a pastiche? I thought I might describe it as Stone Junction rewritten by David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon with a big twist of William Gibson, Susanna Clarke and Italo Calvino. But I wasn’t sure that would cover it.”

Schaub says it evokes comparisons to Umberto Eco, Saul Bellow, and James Ellroy.

Both agree it is a mesmerizing reading experience. Thomas calling it “demanding, frustrating and oddly enlightening … not The Da Vinci Code for intellectuals. It’s more like Howl translated into Latin and then back again. Over 600 pages. It’s amazing … How this book got published is a complete mystery to me. Not because it is not good enough, but rather because it is too good.”

Schaub says the novel “is as difficult to explain as it is completely original. It’s one of the most intricately plotted novels in recent years, and to call it imaginative seems like a massive understatement. The three stories are as different from each other as can be, and the fact that Seay weaves them together so skillfully is almost miraculous.”

It is also an Indie Next pick for May, with an equally glowing annotation:

“Three stories are linked in this outstanding debut by criminal pursuits and Venice — not so much the actual place, but the idea of that place: in the late 1500s Venice, Italy, a man schemes to steal the most guarded technology of the day — a mirror; in 1950s Venice Beach, California, a thief discovers a mysterious text that seems to have unusual insights about that stolen mirror; and in 2015, a soldier purses the thief in The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to retrieve the book about the mirror. As the stories draw together, Seay’s thrilling novel dazzles at every turn. Unexpected and amazing, The Mirror Thief will leave readers breathless.” —Jeremy Ellis, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

The indie press novel is doing very well in libraries we checked, either topping a 3:1 holds ratio or showing strong circ. where libraries are ahead of requests.

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