Book Review

A Mirror Mended

A Mirror Mended

  • Author: Alix E. Harrow
  • Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
  • Publication Date: June 14, 2022
  • Publisher: Tordotcom
  • Series: Fractured Fables #2

Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for providing me with an ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Mirror Mended is the next installment in USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s Fractured Fables series.

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?

So far, each of the Alix E. Harrow books that I have read is amazing. And this one is no exception. 

In this bite-size novella, we encounter Zinnia Gray again, five years after her first foray into the real world of fairy tales. She’s been rescuing Sleeping Beauties galore from their stories, and offering happily ever after to these women. But I guess even that can make a person feel disillusioned and stuck, even while hopping between stories in the fairy tale multiverse. 

Zinnia is still terminally ill, irreverent, sarcastic, and hilarious. But now she’s grown distant from the people who mean the most to her, in her efforts to escape her own life by saving others. And just when she thinks she can’t handle one more Sleeping Beauty, she winds up in a very different story—one with a villain as the protagonist. 

Somehow, she transfers from the Sleeping Beauty story to the Snow White story, and finds herself enchanted with the evil queen. And while she’s used to critical examination of fairy tales, she’s forced to confront a different side of the story, that of the villain. As she gets to know the evil queen, I couldn’t help the fact that the queen grew on me. 

Now that the queen has discovered how her own story ends, like Zinnia, she is desperate to escape it. And these two reluctant allies set off on a journey that is completely unique. I love the way that this series flips fairy tales around, adding a distinctly queer flavor to them, as well as allowing us to get to know the darker side of the stories, rather than the sanitized Disney version that so many of us are more familiar with. But on this romp through the stories, Zinnia is forced to confront some hard truths about herself and her own life.

It’s always nice for me to see chronic illness represented in stories, especially characters who have symptoms that wax and wane. Zinnia is facing a significantly shortened lifespan, although she was allotted more time than she was originally expecting, and how running away into these stories is a literal escape from facing her own issues, which she has been avoiding. Without Charm, her best friend, by her side, her experiences are completely different—she doesn’t have a safety net, and needs to figure out what she really wants from her own life. I’m seriously hoping that this series continues, because it’s fun and intriguing, and I love the way that modern slang is brought into these semi-medieval settings. Ultimately, I’m hoping that Zinnia finds her own happily ever after.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 2

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