Please be aware that Perfectly Reflected is the second in a trilogy of books and that there are some spoilers in this review!
To enjoy Perfectly Reflected fully, please read Small Blue Thing first (you can find my review here)
Perfectly Reflected picks up a few days after the end of Small Blue Thing. Alex is now out of hospital and back home recovering. Grace has also recovered for the ordeal at Hampton Court and both are looking forward to their summer as the end of school draws near. Callum is still very much around, but having saved Alex’s life, he is paying the price by having to fend even more for happy memories to sustain himself. Alex is desperate for them to find a way to be together, but someone is determined to make her life a misery: first it is a golf ball through her window, then hacking into her computer and sending malicious emails on her behalf, and the last straw comes when the mysterious stalker usurps Alex’s identity and manages to wipe out her bank account. When Alex finally finds out who hates her so much, her and Callum’s world is turned upside down and Alex finds herself all the more determined to find out a solution for Callum to get out of his miserable destiny.
Small Blue Thing had left me reeling, so unexpected was the ending, and with such a cliffhanger I was desperate to find out what would come next. I certainly was not disappointed as Perfectly Reflected picks up and continues the story with the same exciting pace.
London again heavily features and there are great descriptions of the streets around St Paul’s Cathedral as well as Richmond. I really enjoy the strong sense of place that the series offers. You can really feel yourself in the midst of its streets when you are reading. As I said in my review of Small Blue Thing, London is as much a character in the books as Alex or Callum are. It is an integral part of the story; many books feel like they could be set anywhere. With this series, it just would not be the same without London.
Perfectly Reflected is much darker than Small Blue Thing, and this follows the development of the story. Now that we know what Callum and the others are, now that we know what can happen if Alex removes the amulet, this brings a whole lot of potential dangers and twists, and believe me, they happen!
Alex is again at the centre of the story and she is a great main character. We see a bit less of Callum (without wanting to give too much away) in this second volume and this gives Alex a real chance to shine. She is an independent girl and very determined, sometimes verging on the reckless, but she is a clever cookie with a good heart and full of loyalty towards her loved ones. I also really enjoyed reading about her relationship with older brother Josh, who has his heart in the right place. And of course, there is Rob!Ah, Rob! He is also a great character but for very different reasons. He has not got many redeeming features, bless him, and certainly not in this sequel, which makes him a brilliant baddie! And he did really surprise me this time; I am not going to tell you why and how, but let’s just say he exceeds all expectations I might have had of him!
Although this is a supernatural romance, the setting is realistic and one that readers will be able to relate to: school, friendships done and undone, boyfriends, bullying. There is an interesting passage in which Facebook features and is used as a tool to spread a malicious rumour. This is an increasingly familiar occurrence in schools and certainly one that readers will know all about. This realistic edge to an otherwise supernatural story is welcome; it helps to ground the story and set firm foundations to its credibility.
I think Perfectly Reflected is a very satisfying sequel. It answers a lot of the questions left unanswered from Small Blue Thing but at the same time throws enough new elements in the equation to keep the reader guessing and consequently wanting more! The ending blows a lot of theories you might have right out, and again this makes the audience desperate to read on to finally discover the secrets of the Dirges and whether Alex and Callum stand a chance of ever being together.
With good narrative, a pacy story, no explicit language or scenes, Perfectly Reflected is a safe and relevant read for lower secondary school readers who enjoy a great story, full of action, deception and romance. It will delight paranormal romance fans of course but this series has the edge over many of that genre: with its realistic setting, its less dark, but all the same quite menacing, supernatural element and its overall more positive vibe (which is mirrored by the bright book covers), it will appeal to a wide range of readers, and deservingly so.
Thank you to the lovely people at Nosy Crow for sending me a review copy of “Perfectly Reflected”.