A change of location and a change of pace is supposed to be a new start for lovers, Alfie and Tom. And the cottage they find in the English countryside promises Alfie just the sanctuary he craves for a last-ditch effort to salvage his relationship with the philandering Tom. The house could not be more to Alfie’s liking…and the real estate agent could not be more to Tom’s liking. When Alfie catches Tom not just ogling the poor man, but assaulting him as well, Alfie knows his new start will be as a single man.
The cottage provides the perfect gothic ambiance for Alfie’s work: he writes articles about all things horror. But he never expects his life to suddenly take on tinges of the paranormal. Soon after he gets settled in, Alfie starts having incredibly vivid and erotic dreams that feature a hot man on the other side of mirror that hangs above the fireplace in the living room. The sexy dreams are a surprise, but hardly worth mentioning to his super…except his super asks pointedly about the mirror above the fireplace. Alfie feels there’s no harm in divulging a few details about his nocturnal woolgathering, but his landlord clearly disagrees.
Ben had hoped that his grandfather’s past would pass away when he did. That’s why he didn’t take down the enormous mirror above the fireplace before he started renting out his grandfather’s country cottage. But when the hot new tenant mentions lascivious dreams, Ben knows he was wrong. Despite his advice to ignore the mirror, Ben fears Alfie is getting sucked into its past. If there is to be any chance of exploring a possible relationship with his newly single tenant, Ben will have to come clean about the mirror, his grandfather, and the paranormal thread that links them all together.
Mirror Man offered a fun distraction during a very busy time of the year for me. It was easy to imagine Alfie being put off any sort of relationship, having just ended his live-in situation with his philandering ex. The way his sex drive goes into overdrive is neatly explained as a side effect of the mirror and the sexy apparition of a man whom Alfie deams of seeing there. It also helped explain why Alfie feels an instant attraction to Ben—it’s partly just that Alfie is now available and happens to like Ben, but Alfie’s also being influenced by the mirror. So if you are looking for a story that features all manner of physical intimacy, then you’ll find a lot of scenes to enjoy in this story.
The quasi love triangle was a fun puzzle, too. Alfie learns the man in the mirror is more than just a dream, and based on how attractive the man is and how ready to engage in carnal pleasures—which are very heightened because of how the man came to be trapped in the mirror—Alfie bears a lot of sympathy for him. When Ben finds out about this connection and comes clean about the mirror and its history, Alfie is a bit skeptical, but is willing to give Ben the benefit of the doubt. It’s not long before Ben and Alfie are exploring a physical relationship for themselves. But where Ben only expresses grave concerns over Alfie’s willingness to interact with the man in the mirror, the man in the mirror grows extraordinarily jealous. This is what brings about the climax of the story.
Because of the shorter format and the need for Alfie to have an attachment to both Ben and the man in the mirror, I was excited to see the resolution of the problem. I think the best element of the ending is how King kept me guessing about who Alfie would ultimately choose. Both of his potential love interests have elements in their backstories that make them sympathetic, but this is tempered by questionable choices. Personally, I would have liked a bit more detail in the backstories for both Ben and the man in the mirror, particularly after the resolution to the love triangle.
Overall, this is a fun little read. Alfie’s job as a reviewer of horror films, the gothic setting, and the paranormal make this a great choice for Halloween, but the shorter format and intense focus on and description of Alfie’s sex life make the story a fun way to escape from the daily grind for a little bit.