"Mirror, Mirror" by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is the author of several books that take old stories and fairy tales and give them a new and exciting twist. In short, he creates modern (so to speak), novel length fairy tales for adults. "Mirror, Mirror" is no exception. It is the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a depth of plot that has obviously never been seen before in this story. The characters and plot are quite different from those of the children’s story, but readers will recognize the similarities, all the same.

Bianca de Nevada is our Snow White in this tale. She lives with her father on a farm called Montefiore at the start of the novel. In a river near the farm her father finds the mirror that the novel is named for. No one can explain how or why the mirror has come to be in the river, but we soon find that it is the property of the dwarves, of which there are eight. The dwarves are described as creatures that appear to be made of stone and are hardly what you would expect of Snow White’s dwarves.

Bianca de Nevada is seven years old when her father is forced to go on a long quest to steal three apples from the Tree of Knowledge for Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The Borgia’s are evil and powerful siblings that quickly take control of everything in Bianca’s life and at Montefiore. Young Bianca is left in the care of the evil Lucrezia with only a cook and a priest to give her solace, while her father is on his journey

As Bianca grows older, she becomes quite beautiful. Lucrezia begins to despise the young woman and plots to have her murdered by an assassin named Ranuccio. The plan fails when the assassin does not have the heart to kill the young woman and so, Bianca finds herself among the seven dwarves of the forest, she then falls into a deep sleep for four or five years. When she awakens, the dwarves tell her vaguely of a how the eighth of their kind is searching for the mirror that her father found in the river.

From here the story takes various twists and turns toward the inevitable happy ending. Good triumphs over evil and justice is served as one might expect from a fairy tale. In the end the reader is left with the feeling that they have read a story that they have never heard and in many ways this is true. "Mirror, Mirror" is a far cry from the Snow White and the seven Dwarfs that we know and love. Gregory Maguire did a magnificent job of blending history with fiction and fairy tale with gritty reality in "Mirror, Mirror."


Shelly Barclay

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