Book Jacket


rank 362
word count 23519
date submitted 28.10.2010
date updated 20.11.2013
genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantas...
classification: adult

The Shattered Mirror

Nick Poole

A surreal cast including golems, vampires, Lost Boys, the Snow Queen, and Jack the Ripper romp across Fantastic London in 1888.


Phoebe is a guttersnipe. Right now, a lonely guttersnipe, having been cast out of the Chapel gang for rejecting Jimmy Coster's advances. Her mum is no help...she's a drunk and a whore.

The nearest Phoebe has to a father is the mysterious Mr Bliss. Problem is, that isn't much comfort. She doesn't know it, but Mr Ebenezer Bliss isn't a man at all. His nature is to grant wishes...but his wishes come with a price and a lesson.

Mr Bliss promises Phoebe her Heart's Desire...her long lost, real life father.

Then a stranger arrives, an ugly, angry stranger calling himself Mr Nobody. He is seeking a name and a past. Could he be Phoebe's father?

Soon the stranger is claiming the inheritance of Thomas Grimes. But at the same time Saucy Jacky starts his bloody reign in Whitechapel and Phoebe is fleeing from the man who might or might not be her father.

Soon the handsome Lord Chandler promises her silks and cooked breakfasts and Theodora Grimes is teaching the guttersnipe to be a lady.

But when the guttersnipe loses her heart it is the monstrous Mr Nobody whom she seeks out.

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brothel, doppelganger, fairy, family curse, gaslight, gothic, homunculus, inheritance, jack the ripper, jinni, junkie fairies, labyrinth, monster, pro...

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Sam Barclay wrote 57 days ago

Hi Nick,

This was a fun first chapter. I especially liked the dialogue towards the end. It was quite funny and well as suspenseful. A good mix. I think with the first paragraph you need to decide which sense you want to focus on as, in my unimportant opinion, there seems to be a bit of a clash between sight and sound. Anyway, I did really like the chapter as a whole, and I would be more than happy to keep reading. I have given you 5 stars and put this on my WL.

What follows are a few possible edits. Please disregard what doesn't work for you. Although judging from your 'about me' page, like me, you want honesty not fluff so here goes, without the fluff:

Why is there a comma in the first sentence?
P3 Not sure you need' quicker' and 'quickened'.
To help anchor/settle the reader, I'd mention England in P1.

P4 Do you need 'also'?
P5 'behind(,) in(,)

Plague Ship...nice

that (,) on closer inspection(,)

'a little' a Find here. I think it is a tad overused.

'but nothing but' felt a tad awkward to my ear.
gentleman(,) Jack,

You call me 'sir' but...

I'd be extremely grateful to you if you could take a look at the first chapter of 'Dax.'

Cheers for now, Sam

Wcoyote wrote 67 days ago

I've read the first five chapters. I like your voice, the story idea is very interesting. What I like the most, your characters are real and they tell the truth in their actions and dialogue. Love the line- we ain't got no blind girls here. Good story, high stars Mark Stone.

LlZ wrote 172 days ago

I'm finding it pretty compelling and intriguing. I was going to say that I felt the chapters were a bit short BUT I think that's what is making me read on, so I don't know.
At some points I feel a bit cheated, as though I am just settling into a character and then they are whisked away just as I get settled into that characters bit again.
But as I say, I do want to keep reading so I can get back to them. Personally, I'd like to spend a little more time with each character- maybe twice as long. I think I'd still feel compelled to read on then.
For example if chapter 4 came straight after chapter 1.

I wondered did you need an 'also' in goddamn also the stink of shit.
Black and red brick loomed out ofthe fog- I got stuck a bit here, and in my head I saw a pile of bricks.
That 's probably just me but I wondered if Black and red buildings loomed would make it clearer?
Or He looked around at the empty street where black and red brick buildings loomed out of the fog.

Liked this line a lot " An old fury pulsed in the man's brow"

One thing about London Tavern, you are never far from a tavern- I dispute this, because on Thursday I walked from Hammersmith to Kensington and couldn't find one single pub open even though it was only about 11.30.

Liked the change to another character in the second chapter. Is the spelling in this bit intentional with "your" at the end and ridiklus?
Not sure what I think about the dropped Hs in 'im and 'igh. I like that they aren't there as it helps reading but because there's an apostrophe in the place of the H, I find it a bit jarring.

The font in Chapter 3 did my head in but I liked that scene.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 15.

Okay. I need to stop at this point and want to say that I think there's lots to like about this book. I really value the pacing. I love the dark setting. Your characters are bold and vibrant, very interesting too, cloaked in mystery. I want to read on and on but I'm too tired. I also with it were all done and I could enjoy it as a book, whether on my ereader or paperback. The writing is quite good but I believe that you can do better. With that said, I truly believe that this could be a fabulous read. It has definitely piqued my interest and want more.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 8.

A couple of neat things are going on in this chapter. I love the jarring sentence you begin the chapter with. I love the character development of Phoebe and of Ebenezer Bliss. I also love how you feed the reader with more details about this "face" issue. Has me wanting to read more to find out what this is all about. I definitely think that it's going to be very unique.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 7.

Chapter 3 is all the more of a mystery to me. First you introduce Outiz, then Phoebe, then there's chapter 3, and then we go back to Outiz (he's great by the way, love him) and get more about Phoebe. The character(s) you introduced in chapter 3 are getting stale and lost from my memory. (I have a short one ;p ). But is chapter 3 necessary? Can you retell it a different way without the intro of Wina, Daniel and me?

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 5.

Up to this point, I've been enjoying the dark world you've created.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 4.
I'm glad I'm back with Outiz. I like this character already. I want to stay with him longer, get to know him, why he is there, who Gentleman Jack is. I'm thinking Outiz is a bounty hunter. I'm fear that Chapter 5 won't be about Outiz.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 3.

I can tell with this chapter that you're gunning for a vivid and deep world. I might suggest, however, that you do a little more with Outiz and Phoebe before introducing three more. Don't want to confuse the reader.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

Chapter 2

The way you introduce Phoebe is kind of confusing to me. Especially using accent within the narrative. I think you'd do fine with introducing Phoebe (and Jimmy) with straight narrative as you did with Outiz in the first chapter. Good job with the dialogue. That can be hard to get.

SBishop wrote 223 days ago

All in all, as he trod on the damp cobbles and felt the dirty air tighten his chest, the city felt, empty, occupied only by unseen specters. If the city felt empty, does it make sense to say it was occupied by unseen specters. Either the city was empty or it was not.

“against the unaccustomed cold of England.” England can get pretty cold. Check out its latitude. Higher than NYC by ten degrees, no? And we can get pretty cold around here.

Damn the cold, damn the smog burning his throat, and damn the stink of shit. Mayhap this plays more rhythmically to your ears?

I liked how your first scene draws the reader in to your story. Outiz is a mystery and I'd like to find out more about him.

Annie43 wrote 334 days ago

Hi Nick.

I read through to chapter nine then computer said 'no' so I took that as an act of the Techno God to go ahead and post my thoughts.

Firstly, I have read enough to want to read the whole book and it took no time at all to make that decision. Secondly, although there are errors of repetition and POV hiccups now and again, I have given high stars for the ease of story writing. I fell into your book from the first chapter and enjoyed the dialogue of the various characters introduced. I do have to hold some characters, who have yet to resurface, in my head but I don't see that as a burden when there is the anticipation of the pay off when it finally comes together. I enjoy how the chapters finish, often very gripping, although some feel too short, making me feel a bit short changed, now being thoroughly invested. I don't think your cockney dialogue reads too Dick Van Dyke (I think it allows a broad readership to understand the social climate of the scene) although consistency is important. If this was in paperback, I would take this with me into the bath. An enjoyable and effortless read. :)

carol jefferies wrote 335 days ago

Hi Nick,

I thought your dark and sinister story 'The Shattered Mirror' has such a great sense of place from the opening with the fog and the gas street lighting. In your writing there is just enough attention to detail about the setting and time without going overboard and slowing the pace.

I was a bit confused reading the first three chapters where each character fitted in relation to one another, but I am sure it will soon become clear as I read more.

The first chapter with Outiz attempting to see the proprietor of what appeared to be a whore house after such a long journey, is intriguing.

I felt sorry for Phoebe and her attempts at rebuffing the unsavoury Jimmy Coster and not getting through.

The characters of Chapter three change again into a trio told in the first person.

I look forward to reading more and high stars for now.

Carol Jefferies
(The Witch of Fleet Street)

Lucy Middlemass wrote 348 days ago

The Shattered Mirror

This is historical fiction with an ideal focus on story and character rather than fact. The short chapters make it easy to read just one more, and around the fourth chapter it’s possible to get into the rhythm of the story-telling. I’ve read the first ten chapters, and commented in a bit more detail below.

“sung along awkwardly” should be “sang along” I think.
“an acid worm twist in his gut…” Nice!
Whatever a plague ship is, it doesn’t sound good. It’s intriguing.

“…that had never even been silk.” I like this, it’s what it isn’t, not what it is.
I also like the detail of “pinching daisies off graves.”
The mystery of the unnamed narrator with a strong voice sets this chapter apart from the previous one well.

I like the way this is presented (although the font is hard going), especially the interjections like, “Give us the bottle.”
The mention of spectres in the first chapter and ghosts in the second foreshadow this one nicely.
“Two things happened.” These chapters are so short! It makes for easy reading. This is quite a cliffhanger.

By the fourth chapter, it’s possible to see the structure of this, and I guess the changing fonts are part of it. For me, I’d trust that the voices in each section are sufficiently different and keep the fonts all the same. I’d prefer to see the separation given in words and language.

You have the spelling “whisky” and “whiskey”. Both are fine, but it’s better to be consistent.
“grotesque figures” I’d like to know in what way they’re grotesque. This is from scarred Outiz’s point of view, so it’d be interesting to read.
Possibly “Passed the porter into the room.” should be, “Past the porter into the room.” although I’m not sure because I can’t tell quite what sort of fragment it is.
The end of this chapter is really unexpected. I like the description of Ebeneezer Bliss’ glasses too.

“The questions were not what she was doing…” is strange in the plural.
“Yeah, but then she’s likely bring those pigs to our room.” I very much like thoughts included in the narrative without the thought tags. This one, however, would possibly benefit from being in italics because it switches from the third person to the first without any kind of break.
I think “lopsided” is one word.
Her mother’s drunk dialogue is nicely done.
“He was always as silent as death when he moved in his slippers.” is a great line, full of sinister character.
“Then she was thrown across the room…” This lacks an actor, and I think would be stronger with one even though the reader knows who did the throwing.
“but Phoebe but Phoebe” I guess is a typo?
“an old black vicar…” We already know Bliss is black. In this image of him as like a vicar, do you need to mention the vicar he’s like is black too?

Chapter Eight has a wonderful, surprising and uncomfortable opening line. I like the chapters about Phoebe best. “The words resonated like the promise of Christmas.”

By the end of Chapter Ten, Phoebe and her possible father are about to make their escape, which is where I’ve had to leave the story for now. The language here is simple but effective - there are no lengthy descriptions or much historical background. It’s all story and the story is great. I wish you all the best with it.


Seringapatam wrote 369 days ago

Nick, Wow, its the pace of this is what I like. its the pace of this book that is going to attract so many readers to it. I loved this and its right up my street. Great use of characters throughout a fantastic thriller. There is another great hook to this book and thats the hook. Loved it and a must read as its going to do so well. Well done and good luck.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

AshNau wrote 417 days ago

This is a thrilling fast paced read. The scene is set perfectly and I can picture the dark sides of Victorian England very well. I love the natural dialect that you perfect here. I am interested in the two different stories you present, which slowly begin to spin together. The pacing in the beginning is great for a thriller, but doesn't quite lead up to the main story line just yet. There is the sense of it, but the plot seems to be mostly setting itself up in the opening. I wasn't able to find any glarring typos or errors, which is always fantastic. Starred and backed!

Marissa P
Our Fathers

Andrea Taylor wrote 511 days ago

Apart from being totally confused about what it is all about, I thought the writing absolutely excellent. You can tell such a good story, why dont you stick to one and tell it well, instead of weaving all over. You are good enough to be easily published (havent looked at your biog yet, maybe you are), so take the first part, which is so incredibly well written and atmospheric and expand on that.
The De Amerley Affair

Warrick Mayes wrote 527 days ago


Hmmm. Not sure what to say - the first three chapters all seemed to be different stories - makes life ever so complicated. What was the reason for the funny font in chapter three?

I did love the language. I liked the description in the first chapter, the fog, the eerie emptiness of the streets, the sounds and smells - wonderful.

Found chapter four seemed to resume from chapter two, but ran out of time. Just had me too confused!

Best wishes
"Sleeping With God"

ceejezoid wrote 532 days ago

Hello Nick!

Finally returning the BHCG review, muchos apologies for taking so long. I read up to 10, then realise 11 was under revision so didn't want to skip ahead.


Well, the pitch and all those genre tags definitely caught my attention. I love the Vistorian London setting, the menace of Jack the Ripper in the background, the hint of fantastical things to come. What I struggled with was the way you've chosed to split things up. Your chapters are short, which is usually a blessing when reading online, but a lot of the time I felt they were too short, like I was left missing information. By 10, I'm seeing a clear run through of the Outiz storyline, and how it matches up with Phoebe. Despite wondering why you dot to him in another bar before he finally enters the establishment, its logical and engaging.

Phoebe is more problematic. Her storyline feels like snapshots of her backstory, but I'm struggling to work out time of them. Initially, she's just "on the rag", suggesting she's quite young, and avoiding the advances of Jimmy. Then she's seeking out her mother, eyeing up taverns with what appears to be the mind of an experienced prostitue, suggesting we've jumped forward in time. We learn that she was sold to Mr Bliss at the age of 12, and see that initial meeting, but by the time Outiz meets her she's 16! Personally, I'd lose everything that doesn't relate to the immediate timeline, and make anything else clear that it's backstory. I'm more interested in what you haven't told me yet - what she has to do for Mr Bliss, and why she is down in the dungeon when Outiz finds her.

Chapter 3, about the nameless person involved in the seances, is interesting but seems to have dropped off the radar in the first few chapters. I'm wondering, if you take much longer to get back to it, how much your reader will remember.


Like the pacing of the individual sections, Outiz's standing out as the main story thread and progressing along nicely. As I said, some sections actually feel too brief. I'd have liked to know more about the character in 3 - you touch on the fact that he's been involved in seances and such like before, but I'd have a liked more detail.


A bit of a tricky, I think. Although I'm 10 chapters in, wordcount wise its not really 10 real-world chapters so I dont expect to have a fully defined opinion on each character yet. You've probably given me the most information about Phoebe, and I'm getting a sense of who she is through her attempts to look after her mother, and her search for her father. Judging by your pitch she is going to be the main character, but I still think her plot line thus far has been too fractured to really do her justice.

Outiz has mostly been defined by his actions so far, so its difficult to judge him. He's certainly interesting!


Nice and clear. The only bits that jumped out at me were chapters 2 and 9/10. Chapter 2 is the only time you write in dialect, the rest of Phoebe's POV is written in a more traditional voice. I actually find Cockney accents quite annoying (I really can't watch Eastenders) so I always prefer to see it confined to dialogue if it must eb used. Otherwise I have to think in it. Anyway, thats not the point. The point is why use it in the chapter 2, then never again?

9/10 only stood out because chapter 10 is really just the events from the end of 9 from Phoebe's POV, therefore it doesn't really move the story along. Do you need it twice? Personally, I prefer Phoebe's version of events.


Ah, here we go. The sort of cover-all topics part of the crit. What have I not said already?

You use some fantastic language and descriptions. I'm getting a real sense of the world your characters live in, I can hear their voices, picture their surroundings. I haven't realy got much of a sense of what Phoebe looks like, but I love the 'wrecked face' of Outiz and the descriptions of Mr Bliss. Your habit of breaking up paragraphs into single line sentences gets a little distracting at times, I'd suggest you keep it as a stylistic device in one fo the threads rather than having it run through as it occasionally gives the writing a fragmented feel.

Structurally, I like dotting back and forth, getting clues about the plot from different places. As I said, I found Phoebe's timeline confusing, but as a device I like it. The only real suggestion I have is to make your sections a little longer, maybe use location as a guide? Some fo the really short sections, such as Outiz's drink int he bar, feel disconnected fromt he main narrative. I don't know, just a thought. Always tricky to work out what would be best on part of the book - it may very well be that it actualy adds to the story and I'm just not seeing the bigger picture!


Apart from breaking up your paras, nothing to crit here. Good mix of simple and complex, and as I said plenty of excellent description. Flows beautifully for the most part.


I hate cluttering up huge passages of dialogue with unecessary speech tags. Yours doesn't have them, but still makes sense. Yay! Naturalistic, and your characters are clear through the way they speak.


I suspect there a lot of tried and tested elements in here, but the way you are putting them together feels fresh. I'm certainly not reading it and thinking about what I can compare it to, which in my book feels pretty original.
As for publishability - what are we looking at? Is it ready to publish? No, I don't think so, but then its incomplete so thats a given. Desirability as a work that could be published? I think you're definitely on the right track. High stars from me, a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon :)

Shnoowie wrote 537 days ago

I really like the first chapter, fantastic description but not too much. It keeps an air of mystery around the character by shows enough of his personality to allow the reader to form their own opinions of him.

Chapter two – the second paragraph is one sentence! Is this on purpose? I had to read it a couple of times to get all the information straight, but if this is Phoebe’s train of thought then disregard my comments. I found that dropping letters to emphasise an accent (presumably London) worked well, the description of Phoebe’s acquaintances really helped set a scene and makes the reader wonder how it links in with the first chapter.
The change of font in the third chapter – initially – made me think that it was written by a woman from a higher class than Phoebe in the previous chapter, however as it progressed and the author became evident it drew me in.
I like the way the chapters cycle back to the ‘original’ character in chapter four and fills in more of his story. For some reason, I thought that this would be a hard read but I found it very easy and engaging. I will continue reading this when I have more time as my interest has been piqued!

Marita A. Hansen wrote 542 days ago

Chapter 1: I don't really have much to say as it flowed well and was easy to ready, although I would like to see less breaking up of paragraphs. I would join more of your sentences together instead of individualising them. But, that is a minor aspect. The only thing I could suggest in this chapter is to very slightly fix the first paragraph where you've put two lots of "felt" in. Alter one of them, possibly having:

All in all, as he trod along the damp cobbles and breathed in the dirty air, the city felt empty, occupied only by unseen spectres.

Or something along those lines.

Chapter 2:
I didn't expect Phoebe's chapter to be like that. Not sure what I thought. I kind of liked it, but I need to read on to see if it fits with the story's structure. I liked the dialect, and the down and gritty elements, but again, I have to read on as I can't suggest any useful criticisms.

Chapter 3:
Okay, I have more of a gist of what to say now. I definitely think the sentences shouldn't be as broken up, because it was making the narrative far to jumpy. You may not want to join the sentences together, but that's my impression on this structural aspect.

In relation to the 3 chapters I've read thus far, the thread of the storyline appears to be disconnected. The feeling from chapter one is totally different from the following ones, where there is more dialect. That's fine, because you are portraying different characters, but it's the storyline that is confusing me. I'll read chapter 4 to see if my opinion changes.

Chapter 4: It's good that you've gone back to Outriz, since his narrative is easy to follow. I think it's fine having the different character chapters (I do this too), but their chapters need to be connected in some way, so that once I've finished reading chapter one it flows onto chapter 2, then three, then four and so forth. Usually when I do an ending to a chapter I give a hint or a connection to the next chapter, which i don't feel here. Maybe I'll introduce a person and that's where the next chapter starts, from that's person point of view, or I give an idea, like a thought that alludes to elements that are carried through, or a situation that needs to be continued. At the moment, the chapters I've read here are disjointed. There is nothing wrong with the content as such and the dialogue/dialect works nicely to set the tone, time and settings, but I wanted to see a connection between the chapters. So, it's only the structure that could do with changes.

I'm not an English Lit major, and I'm only trained in particular fields of non-fiction writing, so I'm in no way an expert, so if what I say doesn't feel right for your concept disregard them, unless you have had similar comments. But I'm commenting as a reader, and as a reader I prefer structural flow. I do read gritty works, so your writing is not something I wouldn't read.

Thank you for reviewing my work, it is much appreciated. I hope my comments are of some use too. Regards, Marita. P.S. If you have any questions about my review feel free to send me a message.

rikasworld wrote 546 days ago

I like this a lot. I read as far as ch. 11 which says it's under revision. I used to love Leon Garfield books as a kid and this reminds me strongly of them (they weren't very suitable for children either!) It's very atmospheric, mysterious and exciting.
So BHCG Review
Plot sounds good, pacing is great I romped through the chapters and each one left me wanting to know what was going to happen next.
Pov. Generally good, the characters are strong and interesting and Phoebe is a sympathetic character. The pov in ch. 2 needs work I think. If you are not going to continue the cockney speak then I think you need to avoid it in this chapter, maybe just use it in speech. It doesn't seem to be continued in other chapters from Phoebe's pov. so probably just don't use it. Characters, dark, eccentric and intriguing - great.
Writing is excellent,very atmospheric and a real page turner.
One niggle you used Capitals when they are not needed like ring and porter and east in ch. 5.
I also found Phoebe's use of different names for characters very confusing. Like the Tongued Man for example. Also Leather Aprong/John Pizer.
None of this probably matters all that much.
Publishable - I hope so. I'd buy it. Original, yes.
Will keep this on my watchlist. High stars.

Mommy Lynn wrote 547 days ago

BHCG review

Hi Nick,

I've read through the first two chapters and I think you've got a good storyline with lots of potential. Your characters are well-written, with very distinct personalities. I'm curious to see where it goes from here. However, I think there is some work that still needs to be done before it is ready for a publisher. Below are some thoughts I had while reading:

Chapter 1:
- I loved your opening sentence. It grabbed me right away. However, I don't think I'd put a comma after "rats."
- If the first sentence doesn't grab you, the voice of the narrator will. It's strong, almost angry, and will keep you engaged fully in the story.
- Your imagery is good. As an American growing up on Jane Austin, I had a very different view of 19th century London. Your story gives me a look at the more seedier side. Apparently not everything was pristine. I believe I did a little nose wrinkling as I read.
- The third paragraph is one very long sentence; and it's a bit awkward. I think I would split it into two.
- Is "This is going wrong," a thought of Outiz? It sounds as if it is, but it isn't in italics. If it is not, then it needs to be in the past tense.

Chapter 2:
- It is starting here that I think some work needs to be done. You've written the book in the third person, yet this chapter is written completely in a sort of broken peasant English. I don't think I'd write anything but the dialogue that way. Not only is it distracting, but it's almost as if you've written a completely different book in a completely different style. I'd stick with the style of your first chapter, though, since the POV is different, make it a bit softer.

Overall, it's a great start.

Surviving Sunset

Charlie James wrote 551 days ago


Read the first three 'pages'.

I think that there might be something here, but that the structure might need looking at. Because of the way this reads, along with the fairly non-descript pitch, I wasn't sure what the plot or story was actually about. This meant that for me the first three chapters seem very disjointed. I also had a bit of difficulty pegging the time frame - when is this set? We have very Victorian ambience and my fair lady esque characters, but then terms like rozzers which are much more 20th century. This confused me a tad.

So, lots of potential, but perhaps think about advertising the thread of the story a little more clearly. I think that a tantalising glimpse into something works, but the reader needs to know what they are glimpsing into.

Hope this helps.

RW Andrews wrote 551 days ago

Hello Nick,
Well Chapter one is indeed a good descriptive beginning. Suspensful enoigh in that you do not reveal much more then necessary about the characters. Building towards a good end and prepares for a transition the reader knows will be forthcoming.

It draws the reader along quite well. It is polished and begs the reader to keep going. That is the makings of a great read. The dialogues are easy enough to follow even though I am not from the local. That is very important! To have the words sound right in one's mind and not confuse them. You do a good job in that area unlike some other books on here by british authors that left me wondering what the hell I had just read.

I like the descriptive style and I see where you were going with your comments about Rebel Vengeance. By following a similar style I think it couls improve my own MS if I do not forget that I am aiming for a specific style of my own. I feel too many writers try to emulate and mimic others and it just does not work. You have a distinctive style that is unique and well organized in from what I can see. While I myself want some of that to bleed through in my own style. I also want to develope something that is distinctive and unique for me.

I can appreciate how you made me visualize the scenes as I read the chapter. That is a sign of excellence and I believe if the rest of your book is anywhere near this quality it will be a hit!


Di Manzara wrote 559 days ago

Hi Nick,

Well, what can I say? I'm jealous. That's the best description I can think of right now.

You write from the heart, I can easily tell. Your choice of words and the amazing dialogue you've put together, I don't know, it's just unbelievably fascinating. Based on how you write, I'm guessing you have had a lot of experience in writing and you do it with great passion. I admire you. Period.

The Shattered Mirror is an excellent novel from a brilliant writer. The concept is very interesting, the style of writing, the descriptions and words used, the dialogue - all admirable. You made me want to go and see London Town!

This deserves 6 stars, nothing less. I'll back as soon as I get an empty spot on my shelf.

I wish you all the best! If you have some time, I invite you to read and rate my book. Thank you in advance!


angie3m wrote 560 days ago

I have enjoyed the first chapter so far and will be putting this book on my watched list. It is an excellent read so far. I like your descriptions and your characters are good and strong. I will be getting back to this one as soon as I can!

Tod Schneider wrote 588 days ago

This is truly excellent writing! I'm so impressed with your ability to draw on all the senses in your descriptions, making them really come alive. The opening paragraph alone is stellar. The dialogue is pitch perfect, and the story really grabs the reader, making us wonder what's up.
Critique-wise, there was only one tiny thing I could quibble with: the very last line in chapter one, sounds slightly off when it switches from past to present tense. I would write "you WERE never far from a tavern.
Alas, I could find nothing else to pick on.
Best of luck with this! And if you have any interest in children's literature, please do come visit the Lost Wink.

LittleDevil wrote 590 days ago

Funnily enough, I put this on my WL last week and started reading it when you answered another thread. I will read this. Doubt I can offer you much more than you already know, but I'll give it a bash.

scoz512 wrote 599 days ago

Your hook grabbed me righ tform the beginning. I thought it was a great idea to put in an exciting excerpt in there letting your writing speak for itself. Getting into the story, you are fast-paced, exciting, hillarious and straight-forward. I totally loved it! My only concern would be that perhaps we get a few too many characters tossed at us and my brain is taking careful notes as I go from chapter to chapter trying to keep up. But on the whole, it doesnt' lose its excitement and I'm intrigued (and isn't that what a good stoyr does, anywya...keep you reading on?). I am sure these characters interweave throughout and I'm confident with your writing skills that it will all come together and not dissapoint. Will shelve it and come back for more! Good luck with it!

Sara Sjoquist
War of the Wastelands

Abby Vandiver wrote 600 days ago

"You're going to need a lot of money. We ain't got no blind girls here." That is hilarious! I laughed for a little while on that. Your book is good and the writing is very good. I love that the Colts were calling cards. Bet they could get him in anywhere.

Six stars from me. And when you get close to the Ed's Desk, just let me know, there'll be room on my shelf for this one.


storyreader wrote 600 days ago

Hmmmm, hmmmm, thinking, would I read on?.. a few tweaks with paragraph positioning perhaps, a little more on what the MC looking like maybe. Its got something. Whether I would read on is a hmmmmm. I am not sure. I might give it a page or two more but it would have to be convincing. But it has something.... it tweaked my interest but has not yet grabbed it. (Hope thats useful) The Reader

Odette67 wrote 609 days ago

ohh this first chapter is a great start. its not my normal read. I love the short sharp sentences, the atmosphere, the description. its enticing, Outiz is a good character,
I shall carry on reading this over the weekend and i have put you on my bookshelf..

Kate off the rails
if you have time to peek at mine, would be most grateful

Wanttobeawriter wrote 610 days ago

This book is an intriguing read. The mark of it is the writing style: short sentences, dramatic descriptions, crisp dialogue and fast action. Outiz is a good character to introduce first. He’s determined and an easy guy with whom to identify. A couple places the story feels a little jumpy but in the end, that’s all right. If a reader only sticks with it, everything comes together in a very satisfying way. A good read, I’m starring this and adding it to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Sharda D wrote 729 days ago

Hi Nick,
hoping for a return read if possible. No pressure.

I love anything even slightly Dickensian in feel, so I was looking forward to this.
A brilliant title and I like the short pitch even though it is more descriptive than intriguing.
The long pitch doesn't quite do it for me, it's a lovely extract but you need something more enticing. You need to flirt a little more with your readers, make it impossible for them not to hit the "read this book" button! We want to be whisked off our feet!

I read chps 1-3 and felt that there was a lovely gritty atmosphere with some fabulous writing e.g. "A spyhole at the level of the man’s throat" is fantastically visceral. The dialogue between Outiz and the porter behind the door is beautiful. It feels authentic and the character of each comes through wonderfully in the exchange. Truly excellent.

But a few things snagged a little (feel free to ignore, I'm not an expert).

1) Your first two sentences feel a bit too "di dum di dum di dum" in rhythm, which felt repetitive. And you have a half-rhyme in "walls" and "orbs" at the end of each sentence which leapt out and was a little distracting. Not sure whether you did this on purpose.

2) In dialogue you often spell out you as "yer" which doesn't quite portray the cockney sound correctly and slows down the pace. Might be better with e.g. "Oh y’do do ya?" and "Put y'face..." rather than "Oh yer do, d' yer" and "Put yer face..." a small point, but again I found it distracting and it slowed the speech down whereas I felt it was meant to be more throwaway in style.
Also when the same woman is speaking just a few lines later you spell out all her yous. It felt a little inconsistent. I know not all her 'you' words would be "yer" or "y" but you need to mix it up both at the beginning and at the end. It felt like someone else had started speaking. Again a tiny point.

3) Too many fogs/smogs in chp 1, count them and see! We get the idea that it's foggy pretty early on, you don't need to keep telling us. It's like you don't trust us!

4) Chp 3 – too many pointers that she is a prostitute, it feels a little heavy-handed. You have her perfume, her red lips, her asking for a drink and her heavily rouged cheeks all in one paragraph! Again, trust us! Also I thought her speech might be better represented as “No need f’you t’drink alone, if y’don’t wanna, is there?"

Loved, “Damn well leave me alone while you drink it”

Hope that's helpful and not overly critical. There's some wonderful stuff here.
5 stars from me.
All the best,

katemb wrote 766 days ago

Hi Nick,
I'm up to Chapter 4 and really enjoying this read. There's so much I don't know but I want to find out. You even have two pet hates of mine - dialect and lots of rhetorical questions - yet I don't seem to care! This comes across as very stylish and lots of fun. Something new for my shelf I think!
The Licenser

FrancesK wrote 769 days ago

Hi Nick, just had a spin through your chapters here [apart from the one that is out for editing] and here are my thoughts. Your setting is excellently dark and atmospheric, the characters of Bliss and Outiz intrigiungly ambiguous, and there is a present day thread of which you only give us a tantalising glimpse but which I needed more doses of, in order to keep it fresh in my brain. There is a smack of Joyce here, things not quite said, or said twice in different ways, that I found refreshingly different. But [and this may be just me], the most interesting character, Phoebe, hardly gets a look in after her introductory moment. I found myself irritated at the chaps taking up all the space when her story has so much I wanted to know more of. And I fail to understand why Bliss, having struck the bargain with Katie, and owning Phoebe for some purpose other than sex, presumably for a few years? then gives her away twice in whimsical fashion.
I noticed a few odd things that distracted me from total immersion:
This is going wrong - the rest of the scene is past tense so, this was going wrong?
An old racehorse decorated the wall [in the pub] for me aroused two images, neither, I suspect, what you intended - a clapped out racehorse in overalls painting emulsion on the wall, or the stuffed head of a startled- looking horse looming over them like a hunting trophy
The penultimate sentence in the same chapter doesn't have the punch it should - Leather Apron's eyes and John Pizer's eyes - too many eyes and too many directions looks are coming from, if you get my drift.
'It's a deal' sounds too modern to me.
Apart from that, and the chapters being so short one can hardly get a bite at them, no quibbles. Hope this is helpful - Frances, of the adverb thread.

Soulfire wrote 798 days ago

Super Harsh Critique Service - Remember, this review is more unforgiving than a Spanish Inquisitor at a Pagan festival.

..........!!?? Yes, that's right. Speechless.

I am so embarrassed right now. What just happened? I'm already on the 4th page of your book and actually want to keep reading. The voice is terrific, the humour sharp, descriptions evocative. I have no idea what just happened. I'm equally interested in the snippets from the flashbacks as well as the present. I have a mystery unfolding and want to know more about it.

'Damn well leave me alone while you drink it'. Hahaha. God. I think that's what all the women who buy me drinks say. I feel the whore's pain.

The only error I found is on page 1. It wasn't enough to stop me or diminish my appreciation of this work. 'Just as it a certain', I believe you mean 'Just as it IS a certain...' I can let this one slide due to the overall quality. It's not even Christmas.

Anyhow, enough of the review damn it. I want to read more. This may actually be the first book on here where I read the entire submission. Thank God it's only 15,000 words. I'm busy for pete's sake.

Anyhow. 6 stars. However, please note these are HARSH stars. I hope you get no satisfaction out of them. In addition, I will shelve this book as it must be in the top 5, if not the top 1 of what I have read so far.

I must be in a really good mood today, I can't explain it...


Lara wrote 805 days ago

There is certainly much intrigue in 2 and the scene and time we well set up. I did not discover th reason for the device of 1 but, given the quality of your writing, I am sure I would find it as I read on. I was reminded of 1984, despite this book being in another age. I would certainly read on if I had the book in my hands. Lara

AndrewStevens wrote 892 days ago

I remember reading and enjoying this about three years ago, Nick, and it certainly doesn't disappoint second time around. On my shelf.

The prose is clean and unflashy but full of wonderfully evocative phrasing. There's an immediate, almost filmic quality to the writing which works really well to engage the reader and involve them in the narrative. The dialogue rings true and helps flesh out the various characters as well as adding energy to the scenes. Effective sense of a dark and mysterious, multi-layered story taking shape. The structure of the chapters works well, drip feeding information and character detail as well as ratcheting up the sense of menace and intrigue. Fantastic stuff.



'in point of fact' - having this at the end of sentence made me stumble slightly

'Just as it [is] a certain...'

'adjust' followed by 'just' jars a little

I like the idea and structure of the prologue but it does feel a little 'undercooked'. I think there may be room to expand it a little so the reader gets a fuller picture of Bliss, his role in life/the novel, the price he may demand for granting wishes etc??

Chapter 1:

Simple but evocative phrasing (eg 'blackened brick walls, 'blurry yellow orbs') really paints a picture for reader of the capital

'damn the smog burning HIS throat...' - why not 'MY"?? isn't this Outiz's internal monologue??

I love the directness of the phrasing (eg 'Hog's path. Straight to the end... An oak door') There's a filmic quality to the prose which really involves the reader.

'An old woman's voice' - I think this needs to be incorporated into the para where she first speaks. This is something that would have struck Outiz instantly (or, alternatively, make it clear to reader that he couldn't initially discern age/sex??)

I have no idea if 'cowboys' were called 'cowboys' in C19th London but it does feel like a very modern phrase? Maybe 'Texas stockmen' or something similarly oblique??

Love the woman's voice!

'This is going wrong' - feels modern??

'{G]entleman Jack??

I really like the exchange with the porter (and think the lack of dialogue tags works well} but I do think it needs one or two more 'action' inserts. At the moment it reads slightly like a 'script'??

Liked his Peacemaker calling cards. Fantastic last line.

Chapter 2:

'let her In everything..' - typo?

'stuff' - Whether or not this is of the period, it does feel quite modern

I'm halfway thru the scene and still unsure of the sex of the narrator. Even the ref to Wina (male? female?) hasn't helped.

Now I get it! Maybe suggest narrator's gender earlier on??

'more impregnable...etc' - these 'colourful' little inserts really help to flesh out the various characters/make them distinct. Cleverly done.

Some of the phrasing at the end of the chapter (eg. 'should have walked away', 'went along with it', 'took it seriously', 'depressing thought') feels a bit weak/modern?? Because most of the prose feels so original and of-the-period, these occasional lapses tend to jar??

Again, really good end to chapter. Dark and intriguing.

RossBrodie wrote 965 days ago

Terror has a reflection all its own, even when the mirror is shattered.

LizX wrote 969 days ago

Hi Nick,

After having an invitation to post some work on the forum, for the group which you take part in, I read some of your comments and sneaked in to have a look at your work. Apart from the nit-picks which I've outlined below, the first chapter was an enjoyable read. I like period pieces and this seems to have enough twists and turns outlined in the synopsis to keep my over active mind enthralled.

Comments. Please use or disregard as you see fit
The first paragraph in chapter one could do with a tweak. It's not a word I'm particularly fond of, but one which everyone seems to understand. The content was excellent and enough to transport me back to the indicated time, but just by saying “he had seen” or “he heard” didn't make me feel more inside the character's pov. In fact it had the opposite effect and I was left outside watching him from a distance.

Rather than – He had seen rats, running along the blackened brick walls. - why not let me into his head and tell me, - Rats ran along the blackened brick walls and gas lamps hissed in blurry orbs. An accordion played somewhere, the sound dampened by the fog. Raucous voices sang along. (I quibble the use of unevenly, one because its an adjective and two raucous said it all by telling me they were probably drunk and bawdy.)

Just in case you're starting to go red around the gills, believe me at the moment it's the only part I'm going to critic. The rest reads really well. Well apart from the urgently clattering coach – (clattering was quite enough) and but nothing but the fog stirred within sight. Still haven't made up my mind if it would have been better as – Black and red brick loomed out of the fog, but nothing within sight stirred. Or a full stop after clattered and then just another sentence with – Nothing but fog stirred within sight. But still, it's your stress not mine.

Ooops nearly missed it! The are in the final sentence. Because of the tense you used, maybe were would have made for smoother reading.

Outiz really came into his own in the final part especially when he was thinking about his guns. I could sense his anger and frustration coming off the page and yes, wanted to read on, but it's getting past my bedtime so I've filed you on my bookshelf for further reading during the week.

Feel free to have a return pick at my work. Your comments would be very welcome.

Dedalus wrote 969 days ago


I'vce read your first 5 chapters (as authonomy counts them). I very much enjoyed two and three. I thought you were writing at your best there. The beginning of the prologue is slightly awkward with the repetition of wild sop close together and I thought the sentence speaking of Outiz' brow protruding was particularly awkward and I did have to stop and re-read it - and am still not entirely clear what it means to me.

However, I found the idea and use of the prologue had perhaps greatly improved the story. You certainly added a lot of genuine intrigue in me, as your reader, towards the plot and character of Outiz. This is then extended into the next two chapters and I did think that the references to Outiz' face and how ugly he was really grabbed me. It was then that I felt this novel was above a lot of other stuff on here. It reinforced both my interest in the plot and Outiz.

One nitpick to make in that chapter si that I suggest you tell us it is a woman's voice before you describe its qualities. I did have to re-read and alter the scene again when it was presented with the qualities first, i.e. hoarse. And your reference to the Hellfire Club - I'm not very knowledgeable on Gothic literature and its associated haunts in London, but for your knowledge there is a Hellfire Club in Dublin dating from that era on Killiney Hill.

So we've moved on from chapter three and I am very interested in everything that ios going on, but all of a sudden the pace seems to go double time. So much faster than before and I am genuinely lost as to what is going on and what has happened. I can't tell you what happened in chapters 4 and 5. All I know is there was something to do with a prostitute - some conversation about something I couldn't grasp, because I was trying to keep up. I hate re-reading so I generally just go on until I pick up on it all, but I just couldn't. The pace seemed to get faster and faster and I was lost. I really do think you need to spend a little more time in each location and make it a little clearer why Outiz has gone from there to here. I certainly had expected, due to the prologue, that there would be more references to location due to the strong mention of Whitechapel - yet you left little space for mentioning the surroundings.

I would have read on if I hadn't fallen behind so soon. It started excellently and seemed to run away from me.

I hope this has been of some use to you, Nick.


CharlieChuck wrote 1010 days ago

I read to chapter 6. I'm not sure if you need the first chapter, to me it seemed redundant. Good build up of tension in the first chapter. It captures the dark and moody Victorian London setting perfectly. I struggled to read the font in autho chap 3, probably just my poor eyesight or dodgy screen. Good luck with this, it feels like a good period romp.

klouholmes wrote 1017 days ago

Hi Nick, I enjoyed these Dickensian characters in the magical and lurid atmosphere. Also, this story moves at a fascinating pace and kept turning through the first chapters at one sitting. Excellent dialogue and texture with the setting. It all made me want to read on to Phoebe and find out more about the girl mentioned in the letter. I can see that this will probably be suspensefully crafted. Shelved and starred - Katherine (The House in Windward Leaves, The Swan Bonnet)

Walden Carrington wrote 1022 days ago

In The Shattered Mirror, you have a very mysterious style of writing. The spooky scenes with the shady characters you describe make me shudder. I love the historical setting in Victorian London and this has a colorful cast of characters I could never have imagined on my own. Let us begin then...leaves many unanswered questions to draw the reader into the narrative and creates a feeling of suspense from page one.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

elmo2 wrote 1031 days ago

a good yarn gov'ner, excuse my clumsy american attempt at saying i like this story, setting is nice, predictable that you would use the london fog i think, but you use it well, i read the first ten or so chapters, Outiz is a good character, obviously something is going to be revealed, something for Phoebe I think, this is the kind of thing though that brings readers along, mystery, i think this is strong enough to be backed and i eventually will, right now i will throw it on my watch list and star it, i just put a couple books on, i will give them some time up there, not too long though, i suspect you might wonder if you should keep the first chapter, the let us begin part, i am not sure, it gives it definitely the feel of a story teller telling a tale, and if you want that then keep it, if not go another way, it does let you introduce Outiz, the look of him, nicely though, i wish you well and wonder if you might give one of my pieces a look, i have a couple up, a commented on any of them would be helpful

MrESheep wrote 1040 days ago

I don't know where the random "Obviously I don't know" at the end came from, unless it was just the universe rendering its verdict on my review! :)


MrESheep wrote 1040 days ago

Hi Nick -

I've read up to chapter 6, not because I planned to, really, but just because I was enjoying it. I don't have any specific line change suggestions, as, mostly, I think it's very well written and flows nicely.

I do have one big criticism, though. I hate the fourth wall breaking where your narrator is directly addressing the audience, in chapter 1 and again in chapter 3. I may be biased, in that I began a book along similar lines once and then went off it so much that I abandonded the whole thing. I just don't think it works, and there is so much else to like here: characters, setting - it's all very much my cup of tea, so to speak - except for that one element, which I found grating and detracting from the story.

The other literary tricks you've played - different fonts, the line breaks for creating urgency during the bar 'fight' - I like. I'm all for a bit of rule breaking when it works and can make a book stand out.

I'm going to back this on the basis that I think I actually would buy this in hard copy - however I beg you to reconsider the fourth wall breaking aspects, as I think it does the rest a disservice.

Oh and I spotted some typos here and there, about three or four, I think. So it obviously needs an edit, but I assume you'll pick those up in the normal course of proofreading.

Well done.


Obviously, I don't know

Mae Tindell wrote 1040 days ago

I have read through the first four chapters so far and am entranced by your characterisation. The scene is very fitting for your story and the characters names more than suitable. Well done, only one error for now, in paragraph 5 ch 4 there is a double use of the word 'his'.
Not sure if you've ever read stories by G.W Dahlquist, 'Glass books of the Dream Eaters' and 'The Dark Volume', but his setting of scenes is quite similar to yours and may help you as you re-edit. Also I would recommend Scott Lynch 'Lies of Locke Lamora' and 'Red Sea's under Red Skies' all types of book similar to your genre and will help with your writing.
Hope that helps?!