Read Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire Online


The world was called Montefiore, as far as she knew, and from her aerie on every side all the world descended.The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. There she spends her days cosseted by Primavera Vecchia, the earthy cook,The world was called Montefiore, as far as she knew, and from her aerie on every side all the world descended.The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. There she spends her days cosseted by Primavera Vecchia, the earthy cook, and Fra Ludovico, a priest who tends to their souls between bites of ham and sips of wine.But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm - and the world comes to Montefiore. In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia - decadent children of a wicked pope - no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest to reclaim a relic of the original Tree of Knowledge, he leaves Bianca under the care - so to speak - of Lucrezia. She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest there can be found salvation as well ...The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say....

Title : Mirror Mirror
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060988654
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Mirror Mirror Reviews

  • Courtney
    2019-07-09 08:32

    This book would have entertained me better if it had been on fire. I rarely ever put a book down before I have finished it, no matter how bad it is... but I not only put this book down, I gave it away. The cafe I was reading it at had a collection bin of books to send to the needy in Africa. After forcing myself to read it for several days, I walked right over and tossed it in. Sorry to whoever receives the book, perhaps it will be better than reading nothing, though I doubt it.Overall the book was a slow-read with undeveloped characters. I felt myself wishing it would all just end. I suggest any one looking to read this book study up on their Roman history and the Borgia family. You'll need it for this, and if you don't know it you might feel a little lost.In all fairness though I didn't like "Wicked". Everyone else on earth seemed to have loved it, so I truly felt like maybe I missed something. So onward I went in the Maguire books. Sometimes we all make bad decisions.

  • Xaka
    2019-07-17 11:34

    I'm a little surprised to see so many dismal/mediocre reviews of this story here. I found myself to be just as fixated by this story as I was by Wicked (I can't say that about another of his popular novels, The Ugly Stepsister).I appreciated the position Gregory took in this re-telling of Snow White. I found the inclusion of an actual historical family (the Borgias) intriguing, although I'm not going to research them. I absolutely adored his description of the "dwarves" and I think that's where Maguire's storytelling capabilities are best shown: his ability to give description to the obviously indescribable. I almost covet his imagination and creativity and would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Wicked.

  • Krissa
    2019-07-05 08:37

    Okay, well. Shana and I were at the Used Book Sale at St. Agnes yesterday and she chided me for buying this when I said I'd probably dislike it. I said I would because I'm not sure anything Maguire does will compare with the freshness, the intrigue and the delight I found in Wicked. Or the quiet painterly tension in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which I liked almost as much.The gimmick, of course, is getting old. In Mirror, he takes Snow White into the viper's nest of the Borgia family in 16th century Italy and, well, it sort of falls flat. None of the characters get enough page time to really develop at all, not the way Elphaba did. You don't get into their minds and see the classic flat fairy tale twisted on its edge. What's the point in retelling a fairy tale if the retelling is as one-dimensional as the original story?His graceful way with words is still there, of course, as is his ability to draw away from one scene and fall seamlessly but intentionally into another, stitching the two side by side in the right way. But perhaps the story of Snow White doesn't carry as much weight as the complex Wizard of Oz (which, of course, draws on a far meatier starting point in L. Frank Baum than the usual flat fairy tales) or the quiet injustice of Cinderella (made SO palpable you barely remember the original story's destination). But I was still disappointed. I still expected Maguire to pull through, no matter how many oddly-angled dwarf chapters I read or how artlessly he tried to make the cunning and terrifying Lucrezia Borgia into the flat vain Wicked Witch. Not to mention how utterly boring Bianca de Nevada was.Pity. I guess I'll still read Lost and finish out the Maguire oevre.

  • Amanda
    2019-06-21 13:32

    This is by far the least appealing and satisfying of the Maguire fairy tales I've read. I'm not really sure where to begin! I was all set to devour this retelling of Snow White, set within a beautiful Italian landscape and with the wicked "stepmother" cast as an untraditional outcast of royalty. (Maguire does possess a gift for understanding the prevalence of politics these stories imply.) However, the rest was slow going. Unfortunately, I will have to re-read it to give more specific reasons for disliking it. (Yes, it's that unremarkable.) All I remember was persevering to the end because of my stubborn insistence of finishing things I start, and then regretting it.

  • Lindsey
    2019-07-09 12:37

    I really hated this book. It was like Snow White on acid. Very fragmented and choppy. Even the book cover was creepy. I love retold fairy tales, but I thought this one was a bit of a stretch, and just...weird. I couldn't tell where it was try to go; was it a horror story, a murder mystery, a complete mistake? All in all, it was trying too hard to be too edgy, in my humble opinion. Mirror Mirror didn't recapture the magic that all of Maguire's other novels held. I was really disappointed. In fact, did I even finish reading this? I don't even remember. Bad sign. Sorry, Gregory Maguire. That's a strike.

  • Britta
    2019-07-01 11:47

    "The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.""What child does not feel itself perched at the center of creation?... Small children know the truth that their own existense has caused the world to bloom into being.""Speaking uses us up, speeds us up. Without prayer, that act of confession for merely existing, one might live forever and not know it.""Faith is a floor. If you don't work at making it for yourself, you have nothing to walk on.""Silence can be tactical. Even God used silence as a strategy.""The way a man slakes his thirst and a woman slakes her thirst are not identical, for they thirst for different things.""She sat amidst us, more or less naked as a human baby, looking, but it was we older brothers - older than trees, older than wind, older than choice - who were born in her presence.""[He] put his mouth to hers and apologized.""Out of our need we patronize our artists, we flirt with our poets, we petition our architects: give us your lusty colorful world. Signal to us a state of being more richly steeped in purpose and satisfaction than our own.Thanks to our artists, we pretend well, living under canopies of painted clouds and painted gods, in halls of marble floors across which the sung masses paint hope in deep impasti of echo. We make of the hollow world a fuller, messier, prettier place, but all our inventions can't create the one thing we require: to deserve any fond attention we might accidentally receive, to receive any fond attention we don't in the course of things deserve. We are never enough to ourselves because we can never be enough to another. Any one of us walks into any room and reminds its occupant that we are not the one they most want to see. We are never the one. We are never enough.""...puzzled curiosity. A raging patience. An articulate simplicity. A womanliness. Or perhaps it was that she seemed like one who didn't worry about what it meant never to be enough. The absence of such a care on her brow filled her with an unearthly beauty that I could neither achieve nor abide."

  • Gloria
    2019-07-01 11:53

    At first I was a little surprised by all the negative reviews of this book. I think it's one of his best. In fact, I ended up liking it better than Wicked. The first time I read the book, I didn't really "get it." The second time though, I was floored. It strikes me as a psychological and metaphorical novel. Whereas Wicked and it's sequels are pretty much straight-up exciting storytelling rife with action and politics, Mirror Mirror has extended sections that in first reading are confusing. But in those chapters, Maquire delves into the netherworlds of the psyche and one never quite knows what is real and what is not. I didn't find Blanca boring. Granted, she is not the fully-fleshed character that Elphaba is, but she is representative of innocence on the brink of womanhood. The dwarves are intriguing in how they morph and communicate. It is a land and time of mystery that Blanca inhabits, but one tainted by the world of the Borgias. Of all his books, this is the one that warrants multiple readings.

  • Erin
    2019-07-05 11:56

    Erin GortMs. HousemanH World Lit5 May 2008Gregory MaguireMirror MirrorNew York: Harper Collins, 2004280 pp. $16.00978-0-06-098865-4 The novel “Mirror Mirror” was an immense letdown after reading “Wicked” and “Son of a Witch.” Gregory Maguire is noted for recreating or retelling previously created tales of fantasy. “Mirror Mirror” is the reinvented story of Snow White. Placed in the fantasy tale are Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, the famous children of Pope. They plan the demise of Bianca De Nevada, the innocent and pure Snow White. The novel has difficult Italian vocabulary and requires history of Rome and the Borgia family. Maguire constantly changes the scene and character throughout the novel, leaving characters dull and undeveloped. These flaws in the writing cause the reader to be left bored and confused. The requisite fairytale ingredients are present - magic mirror, dwarves, beautiful girl, evil authority figure, and random unicorn. But even with these, one is left disappointed by the fact that Maguire seems to devote more attention to the context and history of the story than to the story itself. Maguire clearly did a great amount of research for this book, and that should be applauded. Even so, the book left the reader longing for more fantasy and less history. Maguire interspersed his text with a great deal of Italian words and when you add that to his eclectic vocabulary. Stumbling over the pronunciation of half of the words was surely not helping the story flow, but unfortunately, the story already seemed incredibly disjointed and murky. Maguire’s usual love of the complex characters does not appear in this in this story, instead they were just unfathomable and flat. Many of the characters had great history behind them, but not enough detail and intrigue to enchant the novel. The most one-dimensional character is the main character Bianca. She never is fully developed as an intriguing character because she spends most of the book asleep or suspended in time. As a symbol of innocence and purity, though, she is the center of the novel around which everything else revolves. She is forbidden to live her home on the farm. When talking with Cesare Borgia they discuss her view of the world outside of her view. She says, "I seldom leave the farm -- only once or twice to the village at the ford of the river a few miles on, and then only with my father. Years ago. This is world enough for me, up here. I play with the birds. I climb the apple trees. I used to try to make friends with the servant girls, but since my father left, they have gone away too. Primavera feeds me, and when he remembers, Fra Ludovico sees that I keep to my devotions. I've learned a few letters and I can write my name, some modest sentences. I can swim; the gooseboy taught me how. I milk the cows when the farmer is too drunk to come up the hill to do it. I collect the eggs and help pull beans from their runners and tomatoes from their vines. I help Primavera move the potted lemon trees into the limonaia for the winter. In the summer I pick oleander, lavender bells, and fennel for the shrine in the chapel wall. I watch the moon in its swelling and subsiding" (Maguire 86). Bianca is a dull and uninteresting character with nothing to intrigue the reader or leave them wanting more. She falls flat of Snow White, whose classic story at least kept the girl mysterious and captivating to the reader. What's the point in retelling a fairy tale if the retelling is as one-dimensional as the original story?Gregory Maguire does not live up to the praise and glory of “Wicked.” He left the reader utterly confused and bored. He simply goes too far into the background history and context of the characters that he deprives “Mirror Mirror” of a stimulating storyline for the reader. By using Italian terminology and foreign history Maguire damages his hopes of having another bestseller. He leaves the characters without a life that attention-grabbing and unique, boring the reader and leaving the book unsatisfying.

  • Alpha
    2019-06-16 07:44

    "Out of all the novels by Gregory Maguire, this one is my favorite one. True Wicked was more popular, there was something about this novel that touched my imagination in a way that I cannot really explain. I can say that the novel itself is a mix of both fairy tale and historical events. Also, I can tell you that the tale takes place in Tuscany, Italy which in my opinion is a fine setting for such a book.I have to say that giving Snow White a more exotic and foreign name of Bianca de Nevada was quite smart on Maguire's behalf. It made me truly believe that ""Snow White"" truly is the fairest maiden in the land and in all respects she is as it attains to this novel. The novel starts out with Bianca at seven years old with her father Don Vicente. They come into pocession of a mirror that was made by dwarves but was found by Bianca in a pond which was used to temper the mirror. An eighth dwarf remains with her asking for the mirror back.The wicked queen is in the form of Cesare Borgia and his sister the lovely and vain Lucrezia - who are decadent children of a wicked pope. Lucrezia serves as the wicked queen and grows jealous of Bianca's beauty as she ages into grace. On an attempt by Lucrenza to kill Bianca through a woodsman, Bianca escapes and runs into the seven dwarfs - who are looking for the eight dwarf and the mirror Bianca found years ago.Because of this new twist and plot, this novel was quite an entertaining read and probably the quickest read I had from Gregory Maguire. I was very impressed and loved how everything just went into place with all of his writing. The majestic setting of old Italy also added to the imagination as it gave the ""Snow White"" story more depth. Personally, I think this would make an excellent follow-up to Wicked to truly understand Gregory Maguire and I recommend it as a tryout to anyone and a guaranteed read for those who love Maguire's magical writing style before he published his later writings."

  • Lacey Louwagie
    2019-06-27 06:30

    This book was sort of like a double retelling -- one of Snow White, and one of the Italian Borgias family. I really liked the use of historical events and people as the backdrop of this fairy tale, particularly the use of Lucrezia Borgia as the "evil stepmother." It made me wish I knew more about the family's actual history because I think I would have enjoyed it more. But as much as I liked that aspect, the rootedness of the story in history and politics made some of the more fantastical elements (dwarves that "evolved" out of rocks, the magic mirror, Snow White's multiple-year sleeping episodes on more than one occasion) feel a little out of place. Essentially, I wanted the fantastical elements to be as clearly defined as the historical and political elements, but they sort of weirdly just floated in and out. I also felt like Gregory Maguire laid a lot of groundwork in the first half of the book with the intricacy I've come to appreciate about his writing, but the second half felt rushed, as though he suddenly remembered he was writing a Snow White retelling and had to get all the elements in there. And I couldn't find a way to justify the way the narrative went beyond head-hopping to switch between third and first person with no apparent rhyme or reason (I'm sure he had one because he must have explained it to his editor SOMEHOW, but I didn't invest myself in discovering it). Still, he breathed a lot of newness into an old story without totally mangling it, and that's the measure of a truly good retelling in my book.

  • Bette
    2019-06-24 06:53

    I thought that this was a very disappointing book. After reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which I loved, and Wicked, which I liked, I expected Mirror, Mirror to be a fun read at the very least. It was not. I love the idea of playing with fairy tales; but in my view, Maguire did not succeed in transforming Snow White into a compelling contemporary re-telling.

  • Lynda
    2019-06-20 14:38

    I read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and absolutely loved it. I adore the idea of taking a common story and putting a twist on it. I was excited about this new book, so I reserved it at the library before it had even been published.I was sorely disappointed and that is being kind. I felt like I missed something important in the story telling process that would explain what was happening. The basic plot of the story is easy enough to follow.Bianca de Nevada’s name literally translates into White from Snow (Nevada being a snowy region). Bianca is the daughter of a landowner, Vicente, whose mother died during childbirth. She lives with the cook, Primavera who acts as her nanny and Fra Ludovico, a priest. While draining a lake for irrigation purposes, they find a mirror laying at the bottom and put it up on a wall in their home.One day a campaign comes through and the Borgia siblings, Cesare and Lucrezia pay Bianca and her father a visit. The Borgia’s are historical people, known for their wicked ways. Cesare sends Vicente out on a quest to find the lost limb of the Tree of Knowledge.The quest spans a decade and while Vicente is gone, Lucrezia drops in from time to time under the pretense of making sure Bianca is safe. She doesn’t like the girl, but is never malicious toward her until her brother, Cesare comes along and is aroused by Bianca’s beauty. Lucrezia is jealous of the attention Cesare gives to her and is bent on killing her.She employs Primavera’s grandson, a hunter, to take her out into the forest and kill her, bringing back her heart. The hunter takes her out to the forest and tells her to run away, which she does.This is the part where I get a little sketchy because somehow Bianca falls into a deep sleep that spans several years. While she is sleeping, dwarves look after her. The dwarves are not those that appear in the Disney cartoon, they are completely separate and odd creatures. They are not really aware of themselves as unique individuals until Bianca comes to them. They are stone shape-shifters, obviously not human. There’s nothing really interesting or endearing about the dwarves.When Bianca wakes up, there is an odd scene where her menstrual fluid comes out in one big spurt, as if it was being held back all those years. I’m still not exactly sure what that is supposed to symbolize.Bianca is quick to “befriend” the dwarves, although that isn’t really the correct terminology because they are not her friends. They name themselves for her with names like Heartless, Gimpy and MuteMuteMute. They speak of an eighth, their brother. He has followed Vicente on his journey. The goal was to get their mirror back. Yes, of course, the mirror that was found at the bottom of the lake belongs to the dwarves. They created it in order to study humans so that they, themselves, might become more human.Vicente comes back from his journey with the limb. The limb contained three apples. One was left in another place for safe keeping. When he comes back, he learns his daughter is dead and Primavera has lost her tongue. Although it never states why, it is evident that Lucrezia had it cut out so Primavera wouldn’t speak the truth she knew about Bianca. Lucrezia takes one of the apples and offers a slice to the stone dwarf that is following Vicente. The creature eats the slice and then takes the rest of the apple when it is offered to him by Lucrezia.The dwarf then leaves and returns to his brothers. They all eat from the apple. It seems to make them more human. It makes them age and change like a human would.Lucrezia learns that Bianca is still alive from the gooseboy who saw her in the forest. The gooseboy is supposedly Lucrezia’s son, but that is another detail I missed the explanation for. Lucrezia becomes mad and tries several different ways to kill Bianca. She finally takes the last of the apples she was given and puts poison on one side of it. She gets Bianca to eat the apple by tasting from the non-poisoned side first.Bianca goes into another deep sleep lasting for years. The dwarves recapture their mirror and take the glass out to place over her coffin. Vicente stumbles upon her and just sits there for years before wandering off and dying. The gooseboy stumbles upon her and takes the glass off her coffin and asks to kiss her. The hunter, Primavera’s grandson, comes back and stops the gooseboy and takes the pleasure for himself, awaking Bianca.Meanwhile Lucrezia wants to be happy and will stop at nothing for it. She is obsessed with the apple and feels that if she could have only had more of it, she would be happy. She remembers the third apple Vicente spoke of and sets off to find it. When she gets there, she finds a man who is using the apple himself. He has it in place of his heart.The end – that’s it. The whole sordid tale doesn’t make much sense to me. The story is too hard to follow and no one seems to be motivated to act the way they’re acting. Things just happen for no good reason. Nothing is really explained very well.As mentioned before, this is a disappointment compared with Wicked. No magical world was created for me filled with wonder and emotion, friendships and excitement. Just a hard-to-follow story that is trying desperately to be exactly like, yet hardly familiar to the story of Snow White.

  • Charles
    2019-07-01 12:43

    Stuff I Read - Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire ReviewI was surprised how much I liked this book. I probably shouldn't have been, because I liked Wiked, but in some ways I was disappointed with Wicked as well, with how it dealt with the Dorothy aspects of the story, and I am much more a fan of the Oz books than I am with anything Snow White related. Of course, that's possibly why I liked this one more, because I was less invested in the setting. Also, I'm a sucker for historical fantasies and this is a good one, visiting Provincial Italy during the squabbles of the Borgias and the Medicis and all the rest. It's a compelling read, tragic and full of flawed characters.The one character that really isn't flawed, of course, is Bianca. She makes an excellent Snow White, being basically a child, trapped by that innocence and ignorance. She is, in many ways, the mirror of Lucrezia, who becomes more the main character of the story. At the very least, the story is more about Lucrezia's life and her arc. She is the woman who falls in love with her brother. She is the woman who is sold off into marriage not once but three times. She is the one who cannot find happiness because she is never allowed the power to hold it. That she becomes a creature trying desperately to destroy Bianca is her own lashing out at the image in the mirror, at her own past and her own history, trying to kill it because of the harm it did to her.The story is also filled with some great fantasy. The dwarves are the clearest illustration of this, a sort of living earth that separate and gain individualism only through interactions with the human world. They are not quite the colorful and vibrant characters from the movie, but there is an element of that there. They are products of mainly Bianca's mind, and she gives them consistency until they are able to enter into the human world fully. But it is a fool's errand, as are so many of the things in the story. Vicente's quest for the apples, Cesare's for support, Lucrezia's for Bianca's death, and the dwarves quest for the mirror. Each are for things that they think they need, and each end poorly because they are looking in the wrong place.I liked the religious aspect of this all, too, the way that it's used, the hypocrisy of it, from the Pope using Lucretia to imply that he had incestuous dealings with her to the apples offering nothing of the positive knowledge they should have given to the monks imprisonment of Vicente for so long. It all worked, and worked well with the characters and story. This was not a happy story, was in many ways about the passing of magic into the mundane. But it was a good story, one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, and in the end one that will probably stick with me for a time. That said, I'm giving it a 9.25/10.

  • Elizabeth K.
    2019-07-08 07:26

    You know, I liked Wicked a LOT, but I had this weird feeling after reading it that I wasn't too interested in Maguire's other work because the endless "alterna-tales" shtick seemed tiresome ... which doesn't make a lot of sense now that I think about it, because I never sat around and thought things like "oh Dorothy Sayers, if she's just going to keep writing books about Peter Wimsey solving murders, then why even bother?" But regardless, I was reluctant.I ended up loving this. He's not a perfect writer, but he's crafted this rich, rich story that feels like a completely legitimate foundation for Snow White. In his version, the events are taking place in renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia takes the role of wicked stepmother, although she more like a wicked guardian. And I just loved her by the end ... she is wicked, but so captivating. And maybe the best part was the treatment of the deer killed by the huntsman to provide evidence of the heart.

  • Veronica Morfi
    2019-07-10 07:39

    I didn't manage to read it all, there are still 50 pages waiting for me but I don't think I'll ever get back to it. It was tiring and really not what I expected. The ideas behind the story might have been good but the story itself was dissapointing! I was forcing myself to read through for a few days now but I realized I was just wasting my time.

  • Joey
    2019-06-30 07:55

    Beautifully written story. Barely a resemblance to the fairytale version we all know (The Disney one). I can't understand why all the low ratings. Is it because the story is too beautiful? Is it because it's too poetic? Is it because too many people don't like human on unicorn sexual encounters? Easy 5 star.

  • Every
    2019-06-25 07:41

    One of the better fairy-tale retellings, Mirror mirror keeps this perfect balance between whimsical and utterly disturbing. Maguire's style is definitely present in this novel and though I sometimes had trouble with understanding who was talking in which chapter and what the hell those dwarf/rock/goblin/things were on about, I flew through this book and would love to re-read it once upon a time.

  • Alisa
    2019-06-26 11:36

    I am giving this a higher rsting than any of my friends in part because I listened to this novel. In listening to it, I better understood how this retelling of Snow White reflects the fables compiled by the Brothers Grimm, giving far more detail than is easy to read physically. If I'd read this, I would have either given up or skipped or slid through portions. Despite some Borgia fatigue (from cable television, BBC,and historical fiction), this fabulistic treatment does little to portray with the clan any redeeming qualities, which provides great sympathty for the coming Protestant Reformation. Maguire's understanding and background in fables, myths, and the fantasy world comes alive in his slow development of the protagonists, and why they are so entangled with the antagonists. Likewise, the perpheriary characters create wonderful foils to bith sides' indivudual and collective foibles and redeeming qualities. I particularly enjoyed the deeper pieces of dwarf and Snow White-beyond-Disney details that enhanced the story. Though tied a bit neatly, it was an entertaining listen during my airport (Denver) and cemetery (Graceland) wanderings.*Rounded up from 3.5 stars.

  • Leah
    2019-07-09 06:50

    On a spectrum of fairy-tale retellings Mirror Mirror landed firmly as historical fiction inspired by a fairy tale*. The blending of the Borgias with Snow White seemed a tantalizing combination; unfortunately, the two never merged into a story that felt fully realized. At times it bordered on outright manipulation as if I should appreciate the story simply because the author was brilliant enough to think it up.Frankly, I nearly abandoned the book after Bianca awoke and experienced her first menstruation - several years' worth, all at once - in graphic detail. Written by a man that was hard for me to stomach. Besides the fact I don't quite understand why it was at all relevant or important to the story.So why three stars?Three reasons - one star for each: the dwarfs (view spoiler)[mythical creatures birthed from stone; an existence made more real by the humans seeing them; no particular affinity for Bianca other than how it would impact their "lives" (hide spoiler)]; the mirror (view spoiler)[it worked as a sender-receiver in conjunction with the dwarfs; prophetic qualities but not typical (hide spoiler)]; the tree of knowledge (view spoiler)[the tie-in with original sin, Eve's curiosity, the fruit of which had an unexpected effect on people (hide spoiler)]. Those three elements were the only reason I kept reading; they're the only parts of the story that came close to capturing my attention.3 stars*Please don't interpret this label to mean I don't enjoy these types of retellings; see Bitter Greens and The Golem and the Jinni. I just prefer the more rare end of the spectrum: a fairy tale in a historical setting that feels like an actual fairy tale. Deathless being a near-perfect example.Side note to self: I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever be blown away by Maguire's work the way others seem to be. To date I've read three novels and two short stories. Other than Ugly Stepsister I've been consistently underwhelmed.

  • Katie
    2019-07-16 12:53

    I believe that this just may be my favorite Gregory Maguire book to date. My reading this book just so happened to coincide with a history channel series having to do with medieval Italian History, which made the fact that this book was thoroughly sprinkled with this subject matter even more delicious that it would have otherwise.I literally could not out this book down and finished it in about 12 hours with few breaks. When I finished the book I gave myself about 48 hours and then read it again more slowly taking the time to relish every word. Again, Mr. Maguire’s ability to put a new spin on a classic tale, making it his own with out taking away from the original in any way, boggles the mind. I highly recommend this book.

  • Marianne Ruggiero
    2019-07-08 09:37

    I loved this book. I find Gregory Maguire's style of writing and use of language different, very compelling. It reminded me of "Wicked," in that the beginning was kind of difficult due to the unusual type of narration. When I got used to that, I got gradually drawn into the tale and couldn't put it down. I loved the inclusion of short poems at the beginning of each chapter, some had the feel of ancient chants. And the woodcut illustrations are lovely, they really complement the text. For a tale with so much enchantment, it's surprising how much you feel for the characters, both human and magical.

  • Nina
    2019-06-30 06:54

    I liked this book for the most part, but I felt the ending could have been a lot better. The author's writing was too confusing to understand what actually happened in the end, i.e. did she die or not? I also lost interest in all that backstory about the antagonist that he tagged on at the end. My interest was in Bianca, aka Snowwhite and how the story ended for her specifically, not how many times her jealous enemy had affairs and gave birth after Bianca supposedly died. I felt it was unnecessary to prolong the story with those meaningless details. But up until the end I did enjoy it.

  • Natalie
    2019-07-16 07:55

    I love this author's work produced as audio books - maguire's turn of phrase & the unique way he invokes narrative voice reward the actors - lots of fun, beautiful and humorous all at once - a treat ! I finished it up on kindle and love reading it too - the illustrations and verse at the start of the chapters are like little treats .

  • Valerie
    2019-07-15 07:27

    Very interesting! Another version of Snow White, which I believe I like better than the one I originally learned/read/saw. This was my first thought. My second was why, Gregory Maguire, do you retell fairy tales? Bianca de Nevada lives in a manor house atop a hill in Italy. Somehow, her father is connected with the Borgias. So this old fairy tale becomes entangled with the story of Lucrezia and her brother Cesare, a search for the Tree of Knowledge, the manifestation of the seven or eight dwarves and their magic mirror. The Borgias are no longer in power in Italy for their father the Pope has died. They call in a favor from Vicente de Nevada. He is to find the Tree of Knowledge and bring back a branch or its apples to help the Borgias once again rule Italy and her city states. It is 1503 or so. Lucrezia cannot stand the fact that Bianca is getting to be more beautiful than she and attracts Cesare's a ten year old child! She decides to get rid of them both. Well, you know what happens with Bianca...or do you? All the stories are fascinating...the dwarves, Vicente, Bianca, their stories evolve is spell-binding. I guess that is why Gregory does what he does.

  • Maci Dierking
    2019-07-07 11:46

    More of a 3.5. I really enjoyed this one. But I do love a good snow white retelling! I enjoy Gregory's writing style odd as it may be. EXCEPT for the unnecessary perverseness he always adds. Did the nursemaid really need to talk about having sex with a squid?!!? haha anyways. If you like Snow White mixed with some historical fiction and don't mind an old fashioned writing style you'll love it.

  • Sinit'Irou Futono
    2019-06-18 06:44


  • Thomas Holbrook
    2019-07-02 11:40

    The ability to take a moment in History, add a fairytale and create a story that sheds light on both takes a mind that is rich in imagination, a broad grasp of History and a deep understanding of the Genre of Myth. Gregory Maguire has proven his ability to retell a familiar tale in such a way so as to cause a tale to never be heard with “the same ears” again. In this retelling of “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” he drafts Lucrezia Borgia into the role of the “Evil Step Mother/Witch” and makes more real a “bedtime story,” even though the original always spoke more than we parents wanted our children to understand. Set in early 16th Century Italy, a time of City-States who were in a near constant state of war with each other, the Vatican was less than Holy in its duty to over See of the world and farms were kingdoms unto themselves. Don Vicente and his daughter, Bianca, live on one such farm. Their idyllic life is suddenly and rudely interrupted when, Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, daughter and son of Pope Alexander VI, whose term as Pope set a standard of corruption unsurpassed until recent history, arrive. Cesare, an arrogant warrior, sends Don Vicente on a quest to attain a branch from the Tree of Knowledge spoken of in the Book of Genesis, leaving the beautiful Bianca at the mercy of Lucrezia. A (possible) historical fable is born and detailed with remarkable deftness. How the mirror is discovered, who made it, it’s designed use and the change brought about when all of the books elements are eventually combined is a delight to read and a moment of literary brilliance in writing. The mirror is never meant to be a fortuneteller; rather, it is intended, as are all mirrors, to tell the truth as the seer would like it to be once all the “blemishes” have been removed. As is true in all good stories, the quest for power is prominent in the action of this book and, as is true in all fairytales, that power is subjugated by the true power found in innocence and truth. The elements that cause such conquest are clearly evident, fluid and all around us; their familiarity causes those elements to be invisible until one becomes aware, as if waking from a dream, of the results wrought by the effect of the elements. Quests are fulfilled once the seeker is brought to the place of facing the truth of their essence. Only then are we found to be worthy of the discovery of what we seek. There is allusion to sex and violence in this story. The characters are well developed and “believable” (as much as one is willing to suspend disbelief to believe in the existence of earth dwelling dwarfs). The ending is a commentary on the bitter-sweetness that is life. We lose things that are dear, discover hidden strengths, learn to grow up, return home to find it has changed in our absence and we are not immediately recognized as belonging there. Reading Maquire is a trip to the bedtime stories of one’s childhood, seeing them with the eyes of an adult – the fantasy made sense we were children because we wanted to believe; they make more sense now because we are willing to see life more clearly but still consider the possibility of magic.

  • Angela
    2019-07-07 11:49

    A dark and vivid retelling of Snow White transposed to the Italy of the Borgias. Lucrezia is the evil stepmother and five-year-old Bianca de Nevada grows into the role of Snow White. Vicente, a minor landlord beholden to Lucrezia and her brother/lover Cesare, unwillingly leaves his motherless daughter to go on a seemingly futile errand for Cesare. Journeying to Greece to seek out a branch of the holy Tree of Knowledge, Vicente languishes for years in the dungeon of the very monks who possess the relic. While her father is gone, Bianca develops into a lovely young woman, attracting Cesare's attention. Seeing this, Lucrezia orders her killed and sends a young hunter into the woods with the familiar instructions. Adding much historical flavor and returning to the edgy eroticism of the fairy tale, Maguire invests the journeys of the Borgias, Bianca, and Vicente with a compelling urgency.(School Library Journal blurb)While I'm glad I read it, I didn't enjoy Mirror nearly as much as the other Maguire novels I've read (yes, I loved Wicked and thoroughly enjoyed Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister). Once Bianca was taken to the woods, the story got choppy and disconnected -- rather like Bianca's existence, I suppose -- anyway, it was difficult to stay "in" the story when the author hopped from this point of view to that with little connection between the POVs. Awkward awkward awkward transitions.Still, I loved Maguire's concept of the Seven (or was it Eight?) dwarves, and was disappointed by their limited appearances. I wanted more dwarves, dammit!

  • Laura J
    2019-06-19 11:41

    This is another one of Maguire's twist-on-the-classics novels. I absolutely love the idea and Maguire does it so well. However, "Mirror, Mirror" is not quite as well done as "Wicked" or "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister". The characters in this one were a bit harder to get familiar with and I didn't have a clear picture of the settings, events, or some of the characters.On the other hand, the writing was well done and the plot interesting enough. It sort of continues with Maguire's theme on not-really-evil antagonists because Lucrezia, the antagonist, though she tries to kill Bianca, is not really evil. She has reasons for doing what she did, and she loved her brother a lot. But I guess one of the reasons I didn't like it as much as the other books of Maguire's I've read was because Snow White (or Bianca) is, just like in the original fairy-tale, the protagonist. "Wicked" focused on Oz's Wicked Witch of the West, and about how she was misunderstood and actually a very nice person who made a couple of unfortunate decisions and just didn't have much luck go her way. "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" showed the other side of Cinderella's stepsisters and how they were also sweet, unfortunate girls who had the misfortune of being labeled as "ugly stepsisters." In "Mirror, Mirror" the only real difference from the original, in the way of antagonists and protagonists, is that the "Queen" is not actually a queen or Bianca's stepmother, and she's not so completely evil. It wasn't enough of a difference for me.Other than that, it was a good book and I enjoyed it for the most part.

  • Jessica
    2019-07-14 12:49

    I could not get in to this book. Maybe I was hoping for too much at the start, thinking it'd be as good as Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, or even as entertaining as Wicked...but, no. Not even close.I didn't like Lucrezia, which is to be expected, but I didn't like Bianca, either! She's supposed to be Snow White! She's supposed to be lovely and wonderful and charming and altogether likable! Instead I found her to be boring and tedious and hardly ever there. I was hoping for more of a fabricated story, something along the lines of the two novels I mentioned above, but it never really got there.Was the story disjointed, or was it just my perception? Were the dwarves as infruriatingly annoying as they seemed, or did I just lose patience with them from the moment they were introduced? Even Lucrezia, who should have been a huge presence that could have carried the story along got lost, somewhere in the middle, and never managed to claw her way back out.I found myself counting down to the end of this book, which is never a good sign. It saddens me that a fairytale as rich as Snow White wasn't represented in a way that was even mildly entertaining, and that the Italian countryside seemed to take precedence over the plot.