Marco Swift and the Mirror of Souls by D.E. Cunningham - Book Review

Thursday, March 17, 2022

 

book cover for Marco Swift and the mirror of souls by D.E. Cunningham


I was absolutely shocked at how good this book was. I received a copy from Hidden Gems to review and Marco Swift and the Mirror of Souls is without a doubt a very special hidden gem.


Eleven-year-old Marco Swift is really having a tough time. His father has just died a mysterious death and his mother is struggling with bipolar disorder. In order for his mother to receive in-patient treatment, Marco and his little sister Sophie are forced to relocate from America to their paternal grandmother’s vineyard in Italy. Forced to deal with all the sudden changes, it is understandable that Marco is not handling it very well. On the trip to the vineyard he ends up in a fight with a bully, Luca, who he later finds out is his cousin. Shortly after arriving at his new home, they end up in another fight that results in his Aunt Elda taking him to his room. He keeps picking up hints of a voice that will eventually lead him on an adventure involving the ancestral castle, Crispo.


Marco Swift and the Mirror of Souls falls into one of my all-time favorite categories to read: portal fantasy. The majority of the book takes place in Mortem, which has a very unique magical system. Magic is powered using gemstones that, once deprived, need time to recover (similar to how “mana” works in many fantasy games). I have never read a book with this type of system and found it both refreshing and vastly interesting. The main theme of this book deals with grief and forgiveness. Marco blames himself for pretty much everything that has gone wrong but as he progresses, he begins to heal. The big reveal at the end was done brilliantly.


I read the majority of this in one sitting. For a thirty-something-year-old, this is a very quick read…but I loved every second of it. The pacing was good and the characters were all interesting.  Some moments were predictable, but Cunningham did a wonderful job of placing enough doubt on what I thought was about to happen for me to question myself.


I also really enjoyed the black and white illustrations. The monochrome aesthetic fits the story wonderfully. 



Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Worth reading?

👍Yes. Perfect for fans of middle-grade portal fantasy. I’m in my thirties and still found the characters relatable.