Mirror Mirror, by Gregory Maguire

April 27, 2011 at 22:23 (Book Reviews, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mediocre Books) (, , , , )


Maguire promises a lot and delivers little. Historical fiction blended with the recasting of a classic fairytale might seem like unlimited license for creativity and a surety against failure, but Maguire made several extremely poor mistakes, and his most creative moments leave the reader hungry for more and feeling rather cheated. This book is either much too long or much too short. We have the spectacle of several interesting and engaging characters, each with their own storylines, and in some cases individual races or creatures. None of them are adequately developed.

“Snow White” de Nevada (a cute choice for a name) is barely explored at all, despite being the main character. Brilliantly interesting characters such as Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia are barely touched upon, and Maguire’s bizarre dwarf creatures are superficially discussed at best. There is no sense of mythology, no sense of magic, no sense of historical intrigue. Maguire ought to have been satisfied with writing a Grimm’s style short story, or else should have been prepared to put considerably more effort into developing his creation, paying due attention to Italian history (which is rather superficially explored) and crafting a fantasy worthy of the reader’s investment. As it is, he has given us a very pretty concept that unfortunately has little or no depth at all.

Finally, the writer’s preoccupation with the sex of his characters is disturbing and offputting to say the least. That sort of thing might be expected from the legendarily lecherous Borgias, but their excesses somehow taint every single one of his distrubingly nymphomaniacal characters. This is a seven-year-old Snow White, for pity’s sake! Next time, we could do to leave Sigmund Fraud locked well away, please.


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