Book Review

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

Genre | Fantasy Novella
Page #s | 130
Publishing Date | June 2022

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?

Goodreads

A Mirror Mended is a great little novella that is bite-sized in amount but packed full of interesting world-building and relationships. Bringing multiverses to fairy tales, Zinnia can hop between Sleeping Beauty stories easily; it takes the intervention of Snow White’s wicked stepmother for her to make it into another fairy tale entirely. The two are forced to work together to survive, and in the best possible way, sparks fly!

I love an enemies-to-lovers plot, and this one had an added feminism bonus. Why is the Evil Queen considered to be evil, and are the choices she made to survive understandable, if not forgivable? Adding some grey into the black and white perceptions of fairy tale characters really gave this story something to say.

I am also a sucker for books that focus on relationships other than the romantic. While Zinnia and the Evil Queen are the stars of the show, it is Zinnia’s friendships that are the real heart even though they are barely on the page. I assume if I had read Harrow’s other novellas, I would have a fuller understanding of their history, but I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything. What I got was a very realistic but seldom-told story of a person who was running away from her friends because their relationship was changing and she didn’t know how to handle that. Avoiding the things we fear just making things worse? #relatable

The novella plays with fairy tale characters, but it doesn’t have a fairy tale happily ever after. Zinnia is explicitly against this idea in the best way possible, and I found myself delighted by the ending, which felt more satisfying than I expected.

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

A Mirror Mended is the perfect book for someone looking to upend classic stories with queerness, feminism, and a complicated ending.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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