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“You have to make the best of whatever story you were born into, and if your story happens to suck ass, well, maybe you can do some good before you go.”

a mirror mendedIt has been an exciting five years for our dimension traveling heroine, Zinnia Gray. We have moved past the traditional simple sleeping beauty type stories and into just about every variation on theme that can be imagined. Every country, every type of world, and even some off-world, Zinnia has stepped in and did her best to “help” the titular princess. She has burned fifty spindles. “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.”

Now, what fairy tale do we know of that has a gorgeous face of evil staring into a mirror?

It is none other than the worst of evil stepmothers, the poisoner of many apples, The Evil Queen, and she needs help. Although at the time of jumping through the mirror, Zinnia did not know that. Even the worst of the worst might have a redeeming quality buried deep inside them, and they need a better ending than to be put in hot metal shoes, or crumble and wither to dust. Or, if you take the Disney version, driven off of a cliff. Either way, The Evil Queen’s future is one of horror, and she wants a new ending.

“You have to make the best of whatever story you were born into, and if your story happens to suck ass, well, maybe you can do some good before you go.”

I have often said that Alix E. Harrow cannot write a bad thing. For me, her stories always resonate. When I hear that she will have a new release, I look forward to it for months. A Mirror Mended is no different. I highly enjoyed this story, with a few caveats. Like the first in this series, Zinnia is snarky and likable. I get her humor; maybe it is because I, too, have quite the sardonic tongue. A Mirror Mended is a story that does not take itself too seriously. How could it? Fairy tales, while important culturally, are often a bit tongue and cheek. I am glad that Harrow moved on to another fairy tale just as dark as Sleeping Beauties. Disney sure does enjoy tarting up stories for the masses, especially when the underbelly of the story is figuratively infested with worms.

Harrow is also a master world-builder. Granted, the world of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White were reasonably solid from the original stories, but she takes all those ideas and convincingly twists them. It is one of the things I enjoy about her as an author; she knows how to make the unbelievable into the believable.

“The mirror showed me you, out of all the possible people in all the universes,’ It sounds almost like an apology. ‘Why?’
‘Well, what were you doing at the time?’
‘I was looking into the mirror, obviously. Wishing for a way out.’
‘Well, so was I. As it happens.”

The caveats as mentioned above are that Zinnia’s quippyness, her snark, came off less as a popping soap bubble of humor and more like a defense mechanism, and given the context of the story, it didn’t quite fit right for me as a reader. This might be entirely on me and what I see in Zinnia as a character, but often her dialog seemed too forced. And in a story this short, something like that can quickly drive out a reader, as it did with me.

Even with this sidenote, this is a hell of a good story. Her record for writing killer novels and short stories continues. I highly recommend this as a nice little jaunt into fairy tales. Make sure you read the first novel, A Spindle Splintered, first so you can get all the references and enjoy Harrow’s mastery.

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