A New York Times NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
An NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A Publishers Weekly BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A globetrotting, time-bending, wildly entertaining masterpiece hailed by the New York Times Book Review as "Audaciously well written … the book I was raving about to my friends before I'd even finished it."
Set in three different eras, and in three different locations—all, coincidentally, named Venice—this “startling, beautiful gem of a book” (NPR) calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its mix of entertainment and literary bravado.
The core story is set in sixteenth-century Venice, where, on the island of Murano, the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world's most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination—was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing?—the Venetian mirrors were state-of-the-art technology, subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. Thus, for the skilled craftsmen that made them, any attempt to leave the island—to steal the technology—was a crime punishable by death. One man, however—a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose—has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city's terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten . . .
Meanwhile, in two other Venices—Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today—two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret . . .
All three stories weave together into a spell-binding tour de force that is impossible to put down—an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice . . . and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of art.
Seay's debut novel is a true delight, a big, beautiful cabinet of wonders that is by turns an ominous modern thriller, a supernatural mystery, and an enchanting historical adventure story. The first stop is present-day Las Vegas, where an ex-Marine turned manhunter named Curtis Stone descends into the Strip's seedy underworld to track a famous gambler named Stanley Glass through the prefab canals of the Venetian-themed hotel and casino, but finds instead a mysterious book called The Mirror Thief. On that note, the narrative jumps back to 1958 in Venice Beach, at the dawn of the Beat poetry scene, where Stanley is a small-time con artist obsessed with the enigmatic Adrian Welles, author of The Mirror Thief. Finally, and most sensationally, readers are treated to the subject of Welles's book himself, the man called Crivano, who in 1592 embarks on a dangerous mission in the Italian Venice, gorgeously rendered as a fantasia of conspirators, alchemists, and heretics caught between the dangers of plague and the Inquisition. Without realizing it, Crivano, Stanley, and Curtis are searching for the same thing: the mystery hidden behind mirrors (both literal and figurative), through which, as Welles writes, "you meet the stranger you have always been." In sum, this is a splendid masterpiece, to be loved like a long-lost friend, an epic with near-universal appeal.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinatingly beautiful dream
Very unique, interesting story
This book is an incredibly rich story filled with characters and events on three different story lines that weave themselves in and out of each other until the very end of the story. There is some much visual allusion and description in all three time periods that this tale needs to be read slow for the full enjoyment. Once you just drift along at the story's own pacing, it is a very satisfying read.