A Mirror Mended

Alix E. Harrow (The Once and Future Witches) takes on "Snow White" with feminist and subversive lenses in A Mirror Mended, her second Fractured Fables novella. Zinnia, the terminally ill heroine of A Spindle Splintered (the first in the series), has been busy rescuing other Sleeping Beauties after she escaped her story and rescued her best friends, Prim and Charm. Zinnia sees herself as a heroic figure, helping young women save themselves from their dubious happily-ever-afters. Unfortunately, her actions are breaking the multiverse: stories blend together and magic leaks into the worlds in strange ways.

The primary example of this rupture of the multiverse occurs when an Evil Queen pulls Zinnia through her magic mirror and into a dizzying series of "Snow White" tales. As Zinnia empathizes with and then begins to fall for the queen--giving her a name and, therefore, some agency--readers are presented with a Sapphic journey through alternate retellings of "Snow White" and an exploration of what it means to rewrite the stories. After all her success, is Zinnia truly righting wrongs, or is she desperately delaying her own ending? Through this sarcastic, stubborn heroine, Harrow puts a modern, feminist spin on two classically patriarchal stories, ones in which women are pitted against each other; powerful women are evil; and submissive women are rescued by heroic men who sexually abuse them while they sleep.

Readers will empathize with an evil queen, a true testament to Harrow's skill at writing complex characters and intricate--but thoroughly compelling--plots. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

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