A House Without Mirrors by Marten Sandén, illustrated by Moa Schulman

51slqaag4ul    A House Without Mirrors by Marten Sandén, illustrated by Moa Schulman, (translated by Karin Altenberg), Pushkin Children’s Books, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78269-121-1

Format:  paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 5

Genre: magical realism

What did you like about the book? This is a beautiful story, and if the reader happens to be grieving a loss, this book should offer a measure of comfort. Thomasine is staying with her father and extended family in the home of an elderly great-aunt who is expected to die soon. No one in the house is happy; the adults bicker among themselves and the children are largely left on their own. When the youngest child, Signe, discovers a wardrobe filled with mirrors, it transports her to another time. As each member of the household enters the wardrobe, they learn something profound about themselves. This novel was translated from Swedish; the writing is lovely and the imagery is haunting. The story should hold the attention of young readers, although there is a pervasive sadness about the early chapters. There is also a bit of profanity, somewhat unexpected, but nothing that should stop it from being recommended wholeheartedly. This novel might not be for everyone, but the right reader will be completely absorbed, and comforted by the hopeful ending.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes?  Recommend to readers who enjoyed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis but also to sensitive, mature readers who respond to stories of families coping with loss. The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and Nest by Esther Ehrlich also come to mind.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries should consider purchasing it.

Where would you shelve it ?  Middle-grade fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Near the top. The writing is beautiful and the story stays with you.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: March 3, 2017

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