I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In A Mirror Mended, the sequel to A Spindle Splintered, Zinnia has survived her adventure in a magical, Sleeping Beauty world. And she’s also spent the past five years traveling from universe to universe, helping princess after princess. But five years is a long time to spend in the same story, and Zinnia is ready for a break. So when she looks into a mirror and sees a face that isn’t her own, she’s surprised. Even more so when she’s pulled through the mirror into an all new fairy tale. Now, she faces the Evil Queen of the Snow White story, who has learned what her fate is to be and wants out of it. So she recruits Zinnia to help her, but Zinnia is unsure of helping a villain. Still, what choice does she have?
This was a fun continuation of the first book! I liked seeing how Zinnia’s attitude has changed since the previous one, much more exhausted and jaded. And it was cool to hear about the dozens of other universes in which Sleeping Beauty exists—the Sleeping Beauty-verse, as it were. Still, I can see how watching the same basic narrative over and over again would get tiring after a while, so Zinnia’s mindset makes sense and is sympathetic. And then when we get to see the Snow White-verse, it’s such an enjoyable twist, for her and for us.
I also enjoyed getting to know the Evil Queen, or Eva, as Zinnia nicknames her. She’s given a good amount of depth and complexity, and you end up feeling rather sorry for her. It’s more of a Wicked-like take on her story, which was great. The short nature of this story does perhaps mean that the characterization and development isn’t super in depth, but it does a fantastic job in just a few pages to make you care about these people.
The magic and settings are wonderfully described too. Harrow excels at portraying the atmosphere and tone, and lots of scenes are really eerie. Still, within the somewhat scary settings and the fast-paced plot, there are nice moments of conversation that develop the relationship between Zinnia and Eva. Furthermore, the brief scenes that feature Charm and Prim (characters from the previous book) are also excellent.
I kind of wanted a different resolution with Eva, but the way the story ended was still a good conclusion for this series, which I believe is a duology. The plot points are tied up, and the adventure is exciting and satisfying. In the end, this is a great novella!
A Mirror Mended will be published on June 14th, 2022!