The fifth and final installment in John Heldt's Northwest Passage series, The Mirror, follows twin sisters Katie and Ginny Smith on a journey through time, the likes of which happens to run in the family. The daughters of Joel Smith and Grace Vandenberg – the hero of Heldt's The Mine and heroine of The Show – Ginny and Katie never believed their parents’ stories of accidental time-travel, at least not until a visit to a carnival house of mirrors on their nineteenth birthday sends them from their everyday lives in 2020 Seattle to an entirely different Seattle: that of 1964. Armed with cell phones that haven’t been invented yet and driver’s licenses that read a birth year of September 11, 2001, Ginny and Katie have to start from scratch as they wait for an opportunity to get back to the world they once knew. As they take in a time engulfed in civil rights activism and Beatlemania, the twins juggle the lives they had with the lives they've been given, finding friendship, love, and even family in the past.
With The Mirror author John Heldt brings his Northwest Passage series to a close with a strong finish; in many ways the charm and wit readers have come to know are presented twofold here, thanks to the novel’s twin protagonists. Heldt evokes the ever-relatable nature of siblings in Ginny and Katie, polar opposites in all but appearance. Ginny, sassy and outgoing, becomes a stalwart focus of the story while Katie, the play-it-safe sister, offers a quieter and decidedly emotional edge. Despite their outward similarities, each of the twin characters come to life in a fully realized individuality that lets the reader connect with them on an even deeper level. Ginny’s friendship with James, a young African American man, sparks a fiery pursuit of civil rights and social justice in the time-traveler’s heart, while Katie’s love for grocery store clerk Mike seems to have a history all its own; one that defies even Katie’s wildest imaginings. The love stories and phenomena of The Mirror cover some new and slightly bigger territory than the past novels in the series, and they do so with the same charisma that has made Heldt’s novels so enjoyable. The comfortable familiarity of the narrative and the warmth of the prose lull the reader into Heldt’s unique brand of literary escapism with ease; once there, the story grabs hold and doesn't let go.
At once a fusion of romance, science-fiction, and history, The Mirror brings the ‘60s to life while at the same time offering an affecting portrait of family and devotion. The familial dedication Ginny and Katie feel for each other breaks the reader’s heart when their sisterly bond is tested, while Mike’s devotion to his ailing mother and James’s responsibilities to his family all echo the novel’s core sentiment of how far we’ll go for the ones we love. In five novels Heldt has continued to deliver surprises within his stories and The Mirror offers some of the best suspense in the series with a final act that will have readers riveted to the pages. One becomes truly captivated by the author’s vivid depictions of history – this one complete with a concert scene starring a very young John, Paul, George, and Ringo – and his unique, dependable characters create very special emotional connections within their audience. With humor, grace, and a touch of magic, The Mirror is a worthy conclusion to an unforgettable series.
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