Author Alix E. Harrow is one of the best voices in literature at the moment. All of her books elegantly combine fantasy, feminism, and the power of stories. Her newest novella, “A Mirror Mended,” is the sequel to last year’s hit, “A Spindle Splintered.”
Like its predecessor, “A Mirror Mended” takes on traditional fairy tales, this time the tale of Snow White, and blows them wide open.
In “A Spindle Splintered,” Harrow introduced a “multiverse,” or the idea that there are an infinite number of versions of the same story. For example, there are versions of “Sleeping Beauty” that take place in space, versions that are more gothic, and even a version that takes place in our world.
“A Spindle Splintered” follows 21-year-old Zinnia Gray, who has a rare condition with a life expectancy of a 21 years. Zinnia is her own Sleeping Beauty, destined to die young and beautiful, with nothing she can do to stop her destiny. During a party celebrating her 21st birthday, Zinnia is unceremoniously tossed into another version of her story, where she meets another Sleeping Beauty like her. The two travel through different versions of their own story and learn about themselves and take charge of their own narrative.
The sequel to “A Spindle Splintered” follows an older Zinnia, who is now a professional “fairy-tale fixer.” She travels to different universes and helps other Sleeping Beauty’s take charge of their own narrative. “A Mirror Mended” is a great sequel that flips the idea of villains on its head and challenges what we have been told to believe about them. In the novella, Zinnia encounters Eva, an evil queen from a “Snow White” story who is not everything that she seems. Eva teaches Zinnia not to judge people by previously held ideas of them and to let people create their own stories and narratives.
“A Mirror Mended” contains Harrow’s whip-smart dialogue and more than one hilarious meme reference that had this reviewer laughing out loud. Her ability to balance fantasy and the real world is superb. Too often, real world fantasy falls flat because it is either not believable or too niche. Harrow’s knowledge of fairy tales and their different variations and origin stories is also evident and brings a great deal to both novellas.
Both novellas are quick reads that are perfect for the beach. Harrow also has the novels “The Ten Thousand Doors of January” and “The Once and Future Witches,” which are fantastic reads as well.
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