“Cover the Mirrors” Faye L Booth (Macmillian New Writing)
Transports us back to 1856 when Molly’s Aunt Florrie made a decent income from the craze for mediums who could contact the spirit world. At 15 Molly is her apprentice – beats back-breaking work in the cotton mills and a hand to mouth existence. By 16 Molly inherits her aunt’s business, is lusted after by a manservant who shares her humble beginnings and is courted by a mill-owning businessman. Uncovering the mirrors, that superstition believed with conduits between the dead and living, after mourning her aunt, Molly meets a ghost. Only this apparition is solid and intent on blackmail or, failing that, murder. Molly has to turn a mirror on herself and discover whether a relationship founded on mutual lust can stand its most severe test ever.
Faye L Booth describes the period in sensual detail, including the negatives. Molly is a real woman of her time, not a feisty modern heroine in a period backdrop. The female characters are well-rounded, solid people. The weakest character is William Hamilton, the mill-owning businessman, who feels too good to be true at times and the reasoning behind his behaviour is an info-dump that would have been better teased out. There’s a fairy-godmother touch towards the end when a friend’s self-centred, violent drunkard of a father conveniently, but not unexpectedly, dies. But generally the characters get to solve their own problems convincingly.
“Cover the Mirrors” is hard to categorise: it’s not a bodice-ripper, it’s not a thriller in a period setting and it doesn’t rely on whimsical period devices such as letters and journals like Elizabeth Kostova’s tedious “The Historian”. “Cover the Mirrors” is a good story integral to its setting brought to life with characters that remain memorable long after the book’s closed.