Well hello beautiful people. It’s been over two months since I have done a book review. I think it’s time I rectified that, don’t you? Today I am reviewing A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow, which is a follow up to the first book in the series, A Spindle Splintered. Also, if you haven’t read A Spindle Splintered but plan to, avoid this review as I include the synopsis, which has spoilers for that book. You have been warned!
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone.
Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request, and save them both from the hot iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
This follow up to 2021’s A Spidle Splintered was a delight to read. We follow up with Zinnia as she is on her 48th (49th if you count her best friend’s) happily ever after. She’s grown a little weary of her life rescuing sleeping beauties until one day she looks into a mirror and the face she sees there isn’t her own, but that of an Evil Queen. Will Zinnia be able to help her make her own fate as she has for so many others?
Novellas aren’t usually my favorite, but this is the second one I have read this month that has impressed me. How the author packed so much complex character development into such a short story, I’ll never know, but she managed to do it. The Evil Queen fascinated me. She just wants to escape the fate that the story holds for her. Like so many fairy tales, it’s quite gruesome and she doesn’t want to meet her end that way. I mean, if you knew your ending was going to be something you could potentially change, wouldn’t you try?
Zinnia, our protagonist, is fed up with the way she lives, but knows if she stops, her life may be over as well, and she’s not ready for that. But she isn’t your typical protagonist, she does the rescuing, or helps others rescue themselves. She is complex and nuanced for existing in a book so short.
The world building is great, for all that you don’t spend a lot of time in just one world. This seems to be the year of the multiversal type properties and I don’t hate it (looking at you Everything Everywhere All At Once). One of the things I loved is that the set up for the way of traveling between worlds is described in such a way that seems wholly unique to me. I’ve never heard it’s like before, and I can appreciate that.
The ending was satisfying, and it did leave me wanting more, but in the good way. I definitely left the story feeling fulfilled.
That being said, this book wasn’t perfect. It had some problems with pacing, which I can almost understand given how short the story is.
At the end of the day I gave this tale a strong four out of five stars.