Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors
If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she'll brave the booby trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of secrets. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned? A Novella
Best Book Bit:
“It’s not listening. Nyssa, get out of there.” Hart’s voice barely carried over the crashing of the robot destroying the furniture and the pounding of Nyssa’s own pulse.
Nyssa’s back ground into the bricks of the fireplace. The robot pressed against the chair.
“Not authorized! Not authorized!”
Sandwiched between the chair and the wall, Nyssa had to force out her next breath. Her hand flailed for something, anything, and caught the cold iron of the fireplace poker. God, if ever You listen to my prayers, now’s the time.
Grasping the poker, Nyssa kicked against the chair with all her might. The robot rolled back a few feet but then rushed forward. Nyssa swung. The poker shattered the robot’s left eye socket. Sparks and glass shards flew across the room.
The robot’s head swiveled from left to right, like a disorientated owl. Nyssa bolted for the door. The broom smacked against her legs, pushing her into the table. Chess pieces scattered. She sprang to her feet and aimed another powerful swipe. Its head crunched like a tin can.
The robot’s hands jolted up and down. The broom handle came at Nyssa again and again, but she parried each strike with her poker, retreating steadily towards the door. Her feet touched the hardwood of the hallway.
“Aim for its chest!” Hart said. “That’s where the circuitry should be.”
Nyssa jabbed, skewering the rusty metal plating of the robot’s body. The mechanical monster quivered. Nyssa yanked back. A large section of plating broke away, revealing turning gears and sparking wires. She stabbed again, ripping into the wires. Her nostrils flared and her jaw clenched as she swung until the robot collapsed in a heap.
Nyssa sank to the floor. Her breath escaped in ragged gasps. In the ruined maid’s chest, amongst a nest of wires, pierced by metallic tubes, pulsed a pinkish-red mass, fleshy and veined. Nyssa’s stomach heaved, for inside the chest of the maid beat a human heart.
From the first pages, I liked Nyssa and how opened-mind she is, and not to mention her boss Ms.C. He was the best. Too bad he had a special fate reserved for him. As I continue reading I got caught in the story and enjoyed the sneaking inside moments. The author knows how to describe what a thief thinks and feels when he or she tries to enter a house.
My favourite character is Hart, the mysterious voice within the house of mirrors. He isn't what he seems to be, but I won't be the one to divulge his secret. Whoever is curious about Hart's true identity, will have to read the volume.
I recommend this book with my whole heart and I can't wait to read the next volume.
The plot is engaging and imaginative. The main character, the 16-year-old orphan girl Nyssa, is well-portrayed; you practically get the full picture on her character through action scenes of the first 2 chapters, and then some added info later. The story oozes with elaborate gadgets and the quirkiness of details (vehicles, clothes, machines) is both fascinating and scary. The author’s style is fluent, easy to read and well-edited, with no superfluous words, but the right amount of description and action. The use of artificial intelligence and robotics will probably be a thrill for the geeks among readers, although for me, it was their human aspect which interested me most. The infinite whatifs in the potential of AI combined with human character are clearly displayed in the story with many of their positive and negative effects.
Nyssa Glass is a very curious and skillful teenager, great with electrical gadgetry but slightly weaker in social skills, who has pulled herself out of her shady, thieving, troublesome past, only to be pulled back in through scheming, blackmail, violence and, ultimately, her own curiosity. She is a witty survivor with a good heart, and the only thing I missed was a sidekick for her. In a way, I did get my wish, but that remains to be explained for those who read the story. I even liked her fashion sense and can see her in a movie.
The villains got me curious and I wished we’d had a closer look at them, especially Albriet (I envisioned her as Eva Green for some reason), who showed such facets to behaviour and speech that I wished she’d hung in there longer. In fact, the author shows great potential in portraying characters, the proof of which is also the brief but important appearance of the benevolent Mr C., and I hope to see her balancing more characters in her stories in the future.
The house Nyssa is ‘investigating’ for some shady customers with iffy motives but convincing arguments, is truly a nest of nasty and formidable surprises and horrifying shocks (avoiding spoilers). The author toys with the everlasting idea of humans who play the Creator (just) because they can, with personal agendas which, even if understandable, should always be questioned before implemented into action, but never are (or are questioned too late). Dr Frankenstein meets SF is a motive which keeps the author balancing the thin line between Dr Frankenstein and SF.
If you are a fan of steampunk, Nyssa Glass has quite a wide age span. The main character, gadgetry, tentative young love and quirkiness are attractive for younger audiences, although there is some adult content. Being a parent and teacher myself, I worried, throughout the entire second half of the book, what age group I would feel comfortable with reading this kind of a story, and this is what steered me away from awarding the highest rating. Certain gruesome details and the weird romance do need parental guidance and are not for the faint-hearted and impressionable younger teenagers. Adults will find the morality issues interesting, especially because most of it is not guided by financial greed, but parental love and how far would we go to save our own child. However, for the adults, the romance in the end is slightly weaker when compared to the rest of the story. This is a story Tim Burton would be interested in, and for a younger teenager it may be emotionally charged, so they might need a warning such as ‘do not try this at home’. Then again, warnings are usually invitations for teenagers anyway.
The discoveries Nyssa makes in the house and the culmination of the story logically lend themselves to a sequel, which already exists and will make fans happy, thanks to the author’s intelligent writing and creativity. Nyssa and her new companion, an utterly uncommon couple, slightly eerie though romantic, will undoubtedly go through many more adventures and it will be a thrill to follow for those who like steampunk, interlaced wih horror, romance, wit and technology.
Since I have been asked to write this review for Readers Review Room, I am happy to award it a blue worm, well-deserved by the author’s writing style and vivid imagination.