Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire

 

Fantasy

Mirror Mirror Mirror MirrorGregory Maguire; Harper Paperbacks 2004WorldCat“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

The most well known version of the Snow White story is Disney’s ground-breaking movie which is similar to the Grimm brothers’ original tale as long as you ignore the dancing animals and the singing. Maguire has resurrected the tale in his own style.

Bianca de Navada lives in Montefiore, Italy, with her father. Montefiore is a high mountain retreat that Vicente de Nevada farms and tries to avoid the politics of the early 16th century. He is not able to avoid the Borgias, though. Cesare sends Vincente off on an impossible mission. The beautiful Lucrezia Borgia, Cesare’s sister, reluctantly promises to keep watch over Montefiore and the pretty young daughter, Bianca.

A few years later, Cesare is attracted to the young girl on the verge of change. Lucrezia, vain and jealous, banishes Bianca to the forest. She has a local woodsman take the girl out to kill her. You know the rest of the story – sort of. The dwarves are not the loveable characters Disney portrayed. The Grimms only described the dwarves’ protectiveness of Snow White. These dwarves are different. Lucrezia doesn’t die in a storm or wearing red hot dancing shoes. In fairy tale fasion, though, she gets her just desserts.

Maguire uses a dark voice in this novel, similar to the tone in Wicked. The viewpoint shifts from third person to first person narration from Bianca, Lucrezia, and one dwarf thoughout the story. I found it unsettling. Mirror, Mirror is an interesting retelling of the old fairy tale. I know we can expect more of these retellings from this imaginative author (like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister). Will I read them? I don’t know. From the beginning of the book I had a mild aversion to his narrative tone. I recognized it immediately from the same type of voice he used to narrate Wicked. I didn’t dislike the book, but found it disagreeable to “listen to”.

More books by Gregory Maguire

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