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Mirror Mirror: A Novel Paperback – Illustrated, September 28, 2004
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“A brilliant achievement.”
“Entertaining…profound….A novel for adults that unearths our buried fascination with the primal fears and truths fairy tales contain.”
—Christian Science Monitor
Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author who re-imagined a darker, more dangerous Land of Oz in his New York Times bestselling series The Wicked Years, offers a brilliant reinvention of the timeless Snow White fairy tale: Mirror Mirror. Setting his story amid the cultural, political and artistic whirlwind of Renaissance Italy—and casting the notorious Lucrezia Borgia as the Evil Queen—Maguire and Mirror Mirror will enthrall a wide array of book lovers ranging from adult fans of Harry Potter to readers of the sophisticated stories of Angela Carter.
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“Wildly inventive...Maguire refreshes his source material capably...Every bit as good as Wicked: wicked good, in fact.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From the Back Cover
The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.
In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.
She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ...
A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White -- and has a truth and beauty all its own.
- ASIN : 0060988657
- Publisher : ReganBooks (September 28, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 280 pages
- Lexile measure : 950L
- Item Weight : 15.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.12 x 0.8 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #418,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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In a nutshell, that was the main problem I had with Mirror Mirror: though Maguire's descriptions were as textured as ever, the fragmented narration made it difficult to fully relate to the characters. The characterization in his other books was so layered that I cared about the major and minor characters alike (even in Son of a Witch, which while good was not quite as dazzling as its predecessor). This story focuses on Bianca and her father, Vicente, but I did not feel particularly connected to either of them - they seemed to function more as symbolic placeholders than as actual people. The one real exception to this problem was Lucrezia Borgia: Mirror Mirror was really her tale, and she was by far the most engaging character to me. But her voice is only peppered throughout the narrative; Bianca, Vicente, and the dwarves also speak at different times, and I found the structure too fragile to be effective.
The magical elements in this story did not gel for me, either. The magical elements in Wicked were inherent to the story and Confessions used folk superstition to create an air of the supernatural, but I did not feel I had to totally suspend disbelief to read either one. With Mirror Mirror, though, the branch from the Tree of Knowledge was a hard pill to swallow (what the heck was up with the final chapter?), as was the dwarves' characterization. The dwarves are first described as primitive creatures born of the earth, more mineral than human, yet simply by Bianca speaking to them are they able to speak the languages of men with complete fluency. While I realized that Maguire was asking the reader to explore the idea of imagining something into your own reality, that whole concept seemed out of place in this setting.
I managed to finish this book because I do adore Maguire's descriptive prowess and the sly wit he incorporates into the dialogue, but Mirror Mirror is definitely not his best showing - which is sad, because he had some fantastic ideas to work with. If you're a fist-time Maguire reader, start with Wicked or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
I read "Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister" after I finished the "Wicked" series. I thought it was a wonderful retelling of "Cinderella" and I just knew that when I picked up "Mirror, Mirror" I'd be captivated from the first page. I was sadly disappointed. I had so much trouble getting through all the description of Montefiore. It seemed that Maguire could go on and on for pages and pages about the landscape and architecture. Beautiful descriptions, don't get me wrong, but there was simply too much of it. Also, Vicente's personality is so drab to me, and I didn't understand why it was necessary to spend so much time describing his moods and behaviors. I also feel as if there was entirely too much back story of the Borgia's. This could be because I've never been a fan of history, especially regarding a family from 1500 Italy. It was just boring, and unnecessary to the plot. I feel Maguire could have compressed their history into less pages, leaving more room for the actual story to develop. Even the hunters history was more lengthy than it needed to be.
I am disappointed that it has taken half the book for the story to really get started. I haven't finished this book yet, and am debating whether I should. I have never had to force myself to read any of Maguire's books and am sad that that's what I've had to do with this one since the first sentence. I can't imagine the story unfolding as it should with only the last half of the book remaining. Seems to me it's going to be a mad dash to the end, which won't end well.
By the time you finish you may even convince yourself that the fairy tale was in fact a parable about the Borgia Duchessa (it wasn't of course), and you'll pick up some knowledge about the historical period too.
"Mirror" is more sophisticated than Maguire's most famous novel, "Wicked," his version of "The Wizard of Oz" from the point of view of the wicked witch. It requires more from the reader too--a knowledge of the Borgias, and of the historical moment when the late Middle Ages became the early Renaissance.
Mr. Maguire is clearly less interested in the character of Snow White herself, here called Bianca de Nevada (beautiful but dull more than somewhat) than in Lucrezia Borgia herself. And his rendition of the eight (yes eight) dwarves is playful (MuteMuteMute is talkative, Heartless is sensitive, etc.).
This should appeal to Mr. Maguire's legions of fans and to admirers of Umberto Eco as well.
Top reviews from other countries
I LOVE THIS SERIES