I was kind of swept away by A Spindle Splintered when I listened to it on audio book. So I had pretty high expectations for A Mirror Mended after being in awe about how meta the first felt. It felt almost like watching a clever mystery be revealed and I loved the multiverse. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
While A Mirror Mended doesn’t feel as meta, it ended up sweeping me away more. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a distinct sense of multiverse messing about within. But it’s more grounded in one story – Snow White’s Evil Queen – and the journey that ensues. The first one was grounded, but it felt a bit like it wrapped up more in a cosmic panning out. Whereas A Mirror Mended almost feels like the opposite. Zinnia has been going around trying to save others, but she’s also been running away from the consequences of A Spindle Splintered.
While there’s a distinct sense of action – the complications that happen when you kidnap an Evil Queen – there’s also a sense that Zinnia is going to have the face the music soon. To realize that she has some apologies and mistakes to rectify of her own. That the people we think we know are always more complex than we think. And that villains aren’t always that way for why we might think. An unexpected theme that I adored was this idea of agency.
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That often so many figures in fairy tales never get a name. They remain just a figurehead, a placeholder, a role in a story. And how universal that feeling of just wanting to influence our own story, to have a choice, to have a name, can be. At the same time, a theme in A Mirror Mended is that we don’t need to try to survive on our own. We can tend to hold ourselves in, to refuse help, but we can have people around us to confront the loneliness of existence. If you liked the first, you definitely should read this sequel. And if you like the idea of multiversal jumping, searches for agency, and queer fantasy, find A Mirror Mended on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.