A Mirror Mended by Alex E Harrow (Speculative fiction)

Book two in Harrow’s Fractured Fables series continues the adventures of Zinnia Gray — a self-professed “folklore major with a significant Grimm obsession” — hopping around the multi-verse helping young fairy tale princesses cursing their cruel fates. In the five years she’s been adventuring, she has never managed to escape the Sleeping Beauty narrative, but suddenly a beautiful and cruel face is beckoning to her through a mirror and asking for help. Enter not Snow White, but the Evil Queen, and while she lives up to her Evil reputation (Zinnia calls her “Eva”), things are not at all what they seem.

A good romp through the multiverse with plenty of non-venomous snark, academic folklore overlays, and welcome feminist twists on standard fairy tale princess tropes. Well-written (as always), funny, and great messaging on how to write your own story without succumbing to cultural expectations.

Book one was excellent! Read it while you wait for this book to be published! See review here.

Some great quotes:

“It’s just that they’re so damn happy. I doubt they’ve ever lain awake at night feeling the bounds of their narratives like hot wires pressing into their skin, counting each breath and wondering how many are left, wishing — uselessly, stupidly — they’d been born into a better once upon a time.”

“I’m sure Charm would explain about the psychic weight of repeated motifs and the narrative resonance between worlds if I asked, but I don’t ask…”

“The queen is watching me in a way that reminds me uncomfortably of a lean-boned stray watching a very stupid robin.”

“Am I in some kind of fairy tale mash-up? Is Chris Pine about to pop out and sing Sondheim lyrics in a confused accent?”

“There were plenty of other stories floating around the European countryside at the time — weirder, darker, stranger, sexier stories — but the Grimms weren’t anthropologists. They were nationalists trying to build an orderly, modern house out of the wild bones of folklore.”

“I know how I must sound, what you must think of me, but I only mean power over myself. Power to make my own choices, and arrive at my own ends.”

“Anyway, you’ve created a universe that runs on plot, and a main character who smashes plots like a human wrecking ball. In refusing to complete her narrative arc, she is compromising the integrity of the universe.”

Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on June 14th, 2022.