The Girl in the Mirror
I am totally flabbergasted that my ghostly, spidery middle-grade adventure story The Girl in the Mirror has won the Davitt Award for the Best Children's Crime Novel 2020. It was published by Eagle Books in October 2019. Look for it in the kids' section of all good bookstores! See me reading the first two chapters!
The Girl in the Mirror is a ghostly time-slip adventure novel based on a short story published in the School Magazine Touchdown way back in 2005. Two girls who sleep in the same bedroom more than a hundred years apart discover that they can talk to one another through the mirror hanging on the wall. That's lucky, because an evil spidery force is threatening Clarissa's mother and Maddie's baby brother, and the only help they're going to get is from one another – and the ghost of Clarissa's dead brother Bertie.
Eagle Books calls it:
a gripping and original middle-grade novel which is a mix of time slip, ghost story and mystery.
Geoffrey McSkimming, author of adventure-filled Cairo Jim and Phyllis Wong novels, says that it's:
"A wonderful story, with creepiness lurking in the corners, to startle you and make you look twice next time you go past a mirror. Jenny Blackford has created a time-shifting, spine-tingling winner with The Girl in the Mirror."
This is what the Davitt Award judges said:
"Separated by more than a hundred years, and brought together through a mysterious mirror, Maddie and Clarissa provide comfort and wisdom at a time when they feel desperately alone. The girls band together to defeat a creeping evil that threatens the lives of their families. The Girl in the Mirror is a refreshingly contemporary time-slip mystery. Maddie and Clarissa are intensely relatable with their shared frustrations at the way in which they are dismissed by the adults in their lives. Jenny Blackford has captured the pains of early adolescence – loneliness, fear, uncertainty – in a gripping mystery that is perfectly pitched to the middle readers who will love it."
And this was my reply:
"I’m so delighted! The Sisters in Crime do an amazing job of encouraging and supporting Australian crime readers and writers. In 2016 I won two prizes in the Scarlet Stiletto awards, run by the Sisters in Crime, for a murder mystery set in classical Delphi, and that has certainly encouraged me to write more crime fiction and poetry. And now this, the Children’s Crime Novel Davitt for The Girl in the Mirror. Thank you, Sisters!
I'm delighted to see three excellent early reviews, on BuzzWords, ReadPlus and The Compulsive Reader.
On BuzzWords, Karen Hendriks says,
On BuzzWords, Karen Hendriks says,
...There is a mystery to be solved and lives to be saved and an evil force to be overcome. This time-shifting tale hooks the reader into the mystery with its clever storytelling....The two girls must use all their intelligence and work together. But will they succeed? This is a gripping middle grade novel that is an original and captivating read.
On ReadPlus, Elizabeth Bondar writes,
Beautifully written and particularly aimed at adolescent readers, this novel transcends the science-fiction genre becoming equally acceptable as a light-hearted story on the world of women and a modern and vibrant text on the differences in the world of women, on change and adaptation to the vastly different worlds in which these young women live.
...Difference in the two eras is a dominant aspect of this narrative, and it is their revelation and discussion of the changes over time, and the historical oppression of women in the past, that entertain the reader. In exploring how the human and technological worlds have evolved, and what this has meant for women particularly, the novel is a definitive text on difference, change and the way in which we humans have managed our reality over the centuries. Enjoyable and revelatory, this novel is most suitable for adolescent reading and interesting for adult reading too.
On The Compulsive Reader, poet, author and critic Magdalena Ball writes,
The way in which the present and the past are intertwined is intriguing, and readers will be drawn into the story and the way in which it plays out. There is plenty of humour, suspense, and history:
"…this was 1899, after all, an enlightened, scientific age. They had running water in the kitchen and Father was even talking about getting modern gas lighting installed in the house." (p28)
The Girl in the Mirror is a delightful book for readers of all ages and can also be read to younger children as it isn’t too scary and the overall theme is a positive one. Fiona McDonald’s lovely ink illustrations add a lovely touch to the text. I particularly like the little funnel webs at the bottom of some of the pages. The Girl in the Mirror would make a great gift for a young reader, who will find Maddy and Clarissa’s ability to transcend time and work together as a team engaging.
Feel free to listen to Magdalena Ball's interview with me about THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR and more!
Learned critic and avid reader Bruce Gillespie calls the book "wonderful", and writes:
You have an ability to bring to life characters, period and place that I don’t find in many of the children’s or YA novels that I read these days.
The Girl in the Mirror has a natural flow of events and conversations that I find very satisfying, and the ghostly and horror scenes are very effective. In particular, I enjoy the conversations between the two girls 100 years apart, and the way in which each brings out the best in the other.