3 out of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this work.
Possible spoilers ahead for those that do not know the Snow White fairy tale.
Alex Flinn has me torn in a way I rarely see with other authors. I really adored Beastly (the addition of IM into the text was used very cleverly), like Bewitching and A Kiss in Time, tolerated Towering and barely made it through Cloaked. I can’t think of any other author I have this wide range of opinions about besides Orson Scott Card.
Mirrored is the story of Snow White told in three parts. The first is the story of the evil stepmother (named Violet) and the tragic childhood that drove her to be the cruel maniac we know from the fairy tale. The second part is the story of Snow White herself (Celine) as she hits high school with Violet as a stepmother. The third part is from the POV of Celine’s best friend as he struggles to find a modern day prince to kiss Celine awake.
I really enjoyed the first section, the childhood of the ugly and bullied Violet. Celine’s father originally had been Violet’s closest (and only) friend, but over one summer he grows handsome and ditches her for Celine’s mother. From then on Violet becomes obsessed with beauty as the only way to make her friend love her again. All of her energy, and then her eventual magic talent, go towards making herself the most beautiful woman of all, thinking that that is the only way she will ever be loved. It is a really sensible backstory for a character that becomes insanely jealous of another person’s looks and really makes her a reasonable character (rather than just being obsessed with her looks out of the blue)
Celine, in her chapters, reveals herself to be ashamed of her beauty, since it causes her stepmother to hate her. She is extremely shy and only has one friend until she meets Goose, an outgoing but height-challenged boy in the school musical. Celine ends up spending more and more time out of her house as her stepmother gets increasingly jealous. Things come to a head when Celine’s father dies and Kendra (a witch whose presence is the one connecting thread through all of Flinn’s fairy tale rewrites) figures Violet is now free to murder Celine.
Goose’s chapter focuses on his quest to save Celine while discovering his feelings for her and Kendra trying to keep Violet from finishing off a now comatose Celine. The seven dwarves end up being Goose (he has a form of dwarfism) and his brothers and sisters. I thought that was a cute touch.
All three chapters end up really focusing on what beauty is. Both female protagonists are beautiful and react very differently to it, while Goose too short to be considered classically very attractive. While they do not discover anything truly earth shattering, it is still a really good message, especially for young teens who may be going through the awkwardity of puberty.
There were some clever bits in this story, and I did appreciate the inclusion of a backstory for the main antagonist. I like it when my villains have some sort of reason for being evil and crazy. Mirrored ends up containing more of the charm I remember Beastly having so I enjoyed it more than a lot of his other works. It is not good enough for this to be a first round pick for a recommendation list for someone new to the fairy tale rewrite genre, but I would give it to those who have worked their way through my favourites.