Doppelganger by Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan

Doppelganger is the first of two books (the sequel is Warrior and Witch). This is a straight fantasy. I say that because the cover made me think it was urban fantasy. The woman is wearing black leather, kind of an urban look, but I think they just got the clothes wrong. The cover character is Mirage, who is a Hunter – a trained mercenary, and one of the best at what she does. Miryo is a witch and about to take the final test that will allow her to access her full power. Miryo passes the tests for all elements but when she goes through the test for Void – her power goes awry. Miryo can't use her power because somehow her doppelganger (Mirage) survived. Miryo's task is to find and kill "it". Meanwhile Mirage has been hired by witches to find out who was behind the assassination of a fellow witch and she must complete the job or die herself.

I always liked the word "Doppelganger"..and I like the premise of the book because I remember when I first heard what doppelganger meant, the myth was explained to me too – you see your doppelganger shortly before you die. I was a kid so I thought this was creepy. I was also told when you look in those mirrors where you see a million reflections of yourself – one of the reflections is your face when you die.. hmm.. why do kids like to be morbid? Anyway. Where was I…

There was some set up in the beginning of the book that showed how witches operate, the different Paths, their schooling and testing and conversely how the Hunters operate, the different Hunter schools and jobs they are hired for afterwards, while also introducing us to the two main characters. There seemed to be a slight asian influence to the world – witches names sounded Japanese, the Hunter uniform was ninja-like with a mask over half the face, and honorifics for the witches seemed inspired by Japan as well. The warriors on the other hand reminded me a little of gaming characters – with names like Eclipse, Avalanche, Mirage, Ice and Wraith, and belonging to schools named Cloudhawk, Silverfire, Thornblood and Wolfstar. Everyone seemed to worship the same diety though – the goddess who has different aspects which sound a little Wicca – Maiden, Bride, Mother, Crone, and Warrior and which correspond to a particular element for the witches – Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Void. While this world was well thought out and the set up was important, it felt a little slow to me. It is about midway through the book after set up is done and both women learn about the other that things really get interesting, so I would recommend reading further if you feel it dragging because once I got to that point it felt like it had momentum and I read the rest uber fast.  The doppleganger idea, the warrior and witch schools and religion in the world felt original, but the characters and the journeying from town to town needed something to give them oomph because it felt a little flat. A lot of amazon reviewers called it a solid novel and I'd agree.

P.S. I like the way things wrapped up. And I want to read book 2.

This is somewhere between I liked it and I really liked it.. So.. 6.5 to 7 out of 10

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