Overview (No Spoilers):
As far as personal preferences go, I am especially partial to fairytale reimaginings, but A Splintered Spindle took this genre to a totally new level with its completely unique concept, strong feminist themes, and snarky characters who challenge stereotypical roles. Needless to say, A Mirror Mended was easily one of my most anticipated reads for 2022 and it more than lived up to my very lofty expectations.
A Mirror Mended picks up five years down the road with Zennia still flitting from Sleeping Beauty story, to Sleeping Beauty story, saving princess after princess, and in the process growing numb to the seemingly endless ‘happy endings’. By ignoring her own story and living vicariously through these other stories, Zennia’s snark has soured into something bordering cynical and bitter. The monotony is unexpectedly broken when an unexpected face shows up in Zennia’s mirror asking for help. Long established fairytale roles are cast into disarray when a villain dares to wish for her own happy ending. Will Zennia find purpose in this new call for help, or will she continue running from her own life and looming mortality?
A Mirror Mended veers in a delightfully unexpected direction as Zennia makes the leap into the Snow White universe, with this surprise compounding upon the Evil Queen
asks demands aid in securing her own alternative ending. While Zennia is just as entertainingly snarky as before, she is a bit harder and world weary around the edges. As characters, the Evil Queen and Zennia compliment each other well with banter that easily flows between the two. Interestingly, I didn’t pick up on the romantic flame between the two until it was glaringly obvious as I misinterpreted flirting as needless antagonizing. In hindsight, I should have picked up on this attraction though I had dismissed this connection due to the very prominent red flag of Eva literally being a villain. I had to laugh when one of Zennia’s old professors also pointed this out as a distasteful love interest.
Following the events of A Spindle Splintered, Zinnia has been truly awful to her friends and family. Completely neglecting them by coming home less and less frequently, she was given a new chance at life, but seems to be spurning those who love her the most. This seems completely out of character compared to the Zennia we first met, though to be honest, the poor girl has been through a lot in a short amount of time.
Harrow’s enthralling prose throughout has become a trademark of anything she writes. Moreover, she showcases her diverse skill set by effortlessly tackling novellas, alongside larger standalone novels such as The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches. I flew through this beautiful read in only a day, immediately regretting my rush as A Mirror Mended was over far sooner than I wanted it to be. Overall, Harrow breathes fresh air into yet another fantastic fairytale reimagining that shifts focus to stereotypes the villain is locked into playing.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- One couldn’t help but feel empathy for the plight Eva found herself in, especially as her character grows throughout A Mirror Mended. I did love that in this story the villain was looking for her own happy ending.
- What will the apple Eva gave Zennia do? Put her to sleep? Heal her?
- How could Zennia abandon Charm? Her actions were so very selfish after everything they’ve been through.
- What do Zennia’s parents think of her dropping off the face of this dimension?
- Zennia was running away from her own terminal illness, but also potentially making it worse by not taking her meds or going to doctor appointments? What about all the other children who have this?
- While I enjoyed the story I did feel a slight let down because I was so intrigued, I wanted to fully build out the story and Snow White’s world. I wanted to explore! This also opens more questions about other realms. I would love to see Harrow tackle Cinderella, Little Mermaid, or Beauty and the Beast.