“A Repaired Mirror” by Alix E. Harrow
Having successfully broken her spindle, Zinnia Gray has spent the past five years trying to rewrite her own ending. She jumps from story to story, freeing various Sleeping Beauties from their fates while trying to escape her own. But suddenly she finds herself in a completely different fairy tale with no idea what will happen next. The next book in my Pride Reads challenge is by Alix E. Harrow A repaired mirror.
A repaired mirror is the sequel to A busted brooch. In the same way that the first book was a queer, feminist tale of Sleeping Beauty, this book takes the typical Snow White tale and turns it on its head. It continues the themes of the first book about heroines having their own agency and introduces the idea of using your agency as redemption. Because in this story, the person Zinnia has to save isn’t a damsel-in-distress princess, but the villain.
What I like about this book is that Harrow reminds you that there are many sides to every story. Fairy tales were often meant to be cautionary tales teaching children about dangerous situations – be careful when going into the woods, don’t follow random strangers. The villains were often what we now call “cartoon evil,” in that they’re usually overdone and don’t have much depth. They’re bad for evil’s sake, because the story needs a villain and they’re good for nothing more than that.
However, Eva, the Evil Queen who begins the story trying to learn how Zinnia jumps between universes, has a full arc. She’s the villain, the love interest, and the hero, all in less than 200 pages. It emerges at one point that her plot against Snow White was never intended to kill her – that she specifically chose this hunter because she knew he was too soft. All Eva – who didn’t even have her own name until Zinnia named her – was trying to do was take control of her own life.
The best villains are the ones that you can see have a purpose and a philosophy. For example, Magneto is such a beloved villain because you can totally see where he’s coming from, and while he might be a little extreme in his opinions, he’s not entirely wrong. Similarly, Eva tells Zinnia the story of a young girl who was sold into marriage in a foreign country who distrusted her from the start, and when she finally thought she would have a say in say about her own life, she must have been worried about being usurped. by a young girl.
But none of that explains how Zinnia went from Sleeping Beauty to Snow White in the first place. The reason has a lot to do with trying to change your destiny. Yes, take control of your life, make choices for yourself, but also recognize when you are running away from your problems. You cannot outrun your own end.
A busted brooch was a bit meta, acknowledging issues with most mainstream versions of Sleeping Beauty and doing its best to subvert expectations. A repaired mirror is even more meta, with moments like Zinnia remarking that she knows falling in love with the villain is a bit cliché, and even a scene where Zinnia tells the whole story to her old classics teacher, and the teacher continues to break into holes in the plot structure and world building.
A repaired mirror is a short, entertaining read that can easily be accomplished in an afternoon, if you’re like me. While I hesitate to call this story “cute,” since Zinnia and Eva go through some pretty dark times, it’s a quietly hopeful Sapphic romance that underscores the importance of living a life that makes you happy.
A repaired mirror by Alix E. Harrow is published by Tor.com and is currently available wherever books are sold.
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* I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie holds a BA in English with a major in Creative Writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, available on Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York with her ninja vampire demon cat. She covers TV, books, movies, cartoons and conventions in the New York area.
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