Book Review: The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of Manifest Delusions
Publisher: Michael R. Fletcher (December 15, 2016)
Length: 455 pages
The Mirror’s Truth is a sequel that builds upon everything that made the first book so great and all-consuming, featuring storylines and characters that are grittier, twistier, and even more insane. In other words, it’s even more fucked up than Beyond Redemption…and I loved it.
“War isn’t insanity, it’s the base state for all reality. Plants war for sunlight. Animals war for food and water. Wolves battle to decide who leads the pack. All life is struggle.
Peace, now that is insanity.”
You didn’t actually think it was over for our protagonists, did you? In the world of Manifest Delusions, death is only the beginning. Bedeckt, Stehlen, and Wichtig are back, following the complete and utter bloodbath that was the end of the first book. Only now, they’ve emerged even more brutal, bloodthirsty and psychotic than ever before.
It all started when the old and wretched Bedeckt, filled with the sudden horror of his actions, decided that he could not go through with the plans he had made. Now he must undo the damage caused by his weakness and do whatever it takes to stop Morgan, the mad child who has become a god. And if it takes abandoning his companions to the eternal greyness of the Afterdeath, then so be it.
Not surprisingly, Stehlen and Wichtig react none too kindly to that idea. Livid at being left behind, the murderous Kleptic and the self-styled Best Swordsman in the World decide to make clandestine deals of their own, returning to the world of the living in order track down Bedeckt and make him pay—slowly and painfully.
With friends like these, who needs enemies? At the same time though, it would be a mistake to dismiss these characters so casually. They may be insane, but they are deep. Beyond Redemption would not have been such a wildly successful book in my eyes if our protagonists had merely been the vile, monstrous degenerates they appeared to be on the surface. Instead, Michael R. Fletcher drew me in with the complexity of their personalities and relationships, and I was glad he continued to build upon these in the sequel. While Bedeckt, Stehlen, and Wichtig spend much of this book apart, we are still treated to the fascinating inner workings of their deep, dark scary minds.
In fact, with the chapters basically alternating between their POVs, each of the three are essentially given their own storyline thus giving way to a lot more character development on an individual level. The Bedeckt we used to know has become transformed, no longer just an old jaded thief looking to end his financial troubles once and for all with the score of a lifetime. Now he is a man wracked with guilt and grief, struggling to keep what morals (and sanity) he has left. We also get to see a softer side of Stehlen—and if you’ve read the first book, you’ll understand why I just burst into incredulous giggles while typing that—but believe it or not, it is true; the psycho kleptomaniac woman actually has feelings that go beyond wanting to slit your throat and steal your shit. And finally, there’s Wichtig, perhaps the most complicated of them all. Of the three protagonists, he’s the only one whose past is explored in depth, and I also find the story surrounding his delusion of being the world’s best swordsman to be extremely compelling.
And of course, I am once again floored by the originality and excellence in the world-building. People always complain about the same tired old tropes in fantasy and the lack of fresh ideas when it comes to magic systems and powers. To them I say, “Take some Manifest Delusions and call me in the morning.” Fletcher has done an incredible job creating this world where magic is madness, and those who are the most powerful are also the most unhinged. It’s a premise ripe for all kinds of ruckus and mayhem, and this sequel pushes the envelope even further.
Plot-wise, The Mirror’s Truth is simpler in some ways, but it is also stranger, bloodier, and more violent. The conclusion, however, was the best part. With that ending, Michael R. Fletcher might have just single-handedly redefined the word “insane”. Seriously.
I think it’s safe to say those who enjoyed Beyond Redemption will also love this sequel, and after all this waiting and uncertainty, I’m glad that The Mirror’s Truth has finally found its way into readers’ hands. Manifest Delusions is not so much a hidden gem, but rather an absolute treasure trove of a series to fans of grimdark. By the end of this one you will be begging for more.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Beyond Redemption (Book 1)