Mike Wilks‘ new book, Mirrorstorm, is the second in his Mirrorscape trilogy and escapes the sluggishness normally associated with middle books. It takes the argument of Mirrorworld, and further develops it the ideas in it. What began as an excursion into art develops into meta-narrative and a commentary onto how to see the world.
Mel, one the heroes of the first book, overhears a plan to start off three storms between Vlam and the Mirrorscape. Questioning some of the facts leads him to the library where he finds that books have been going missing and hears about the theological split between the Ters and the Fas. The heresy turns into a power struggle which affects both worlds. Following the trail, they find the fabled Paper Belfry but Mel, Ludo and Wren escape into the Mirrorscape when they are being hunted by the Morg.
Once inside the world, they find it in chaos and are drawn into restoring the world. Escaping with Cassetti, an ambassador for the Cloud Kingdoms (one of the few interfaces between the real and mirror worlds), they are given a “luck compass” . Cassetti makes them works the artefact out themselves which is one of the themes of the book. If Mirrorworld asked us to look at art in a different way, then Mirrorstorm asks us to question the world and do the research ourselves. In contrast to the Vlam library which appears to require specialist knowledge to navigate, the Mirrorscape search engine is called Cogito which will not help them unless a question is asked correctly. As the worlds come together, Mel, Ludo and Wren come across some old adversaries and discover what makes them truly tick.
Underneath it all Wilks writes with more than some verve and pace, developing the depth of the world and its argument. Having shown us the world behind pictures (with the arguments about the nature of high and low art), he manages to place it into a wider argument about how art is used and experienced. We get more out of the world by questioning it and finding out how it works and why. I’m waiting eagerly for Mirrorshade when it comes out in September.