Summary (from the cover flap):
Beauty is the key to everything. At least, that’s how it seems to Violet – ugly, bullied, and lonely. To be beautiful, in her eyes, is to have power and love. And when Kendra, the witch, teaches Violet how to use magic, she may finally get what she wants. For Celine, beautiful since birth, her looks have been a hindrance. She discovers that beauty is also a threat – especially to her stepmother, VIolet, who doesn’t want anyone sharing the attention she worked so hard to get and who will do anything to be the fairest of them all. But beauty isn’t only skin deep and love isn’t based on love alone. And though Violet and Celine may seem to be completely opposite, their lives are almost…Mirrored.
In my eyes there are two kinds of fairy tale retellings: the super literal kind that hits all the beats in all the expected ways (I felt Cinder fits this model) and then there are kinds like Mirrored: the influences are clearly there and the major beats are hit, but it’s told so well that sometimes you have to remind yourself of what the influence is because the author has done a great enough job that it genuinely feels fresh. You get to this point by making smart choices and knowing how much of the source to use to still feel like the story, but not just ripping it right out of the source.
For example of a smart choice: the story starts out by telling Violet’s story. We meet a lonely little girl, neglected by her mother and bullied by her classmates. We see how she makes a friend in a guy named Greg, and how Greg drops her in a hot second after a summer where puberty was kind enough to him to allow him to join the cool kids. Even though Kendra, the witch who teaches her to use her magic, points out that if he had loved her, he’d never have stopped being her friend, Violet doesn’t care. This it the last straw that proves to her that it’s not what inside what counts, only the outside. Kendra teaches her how to change her appearance to help distract her, but it’s by then it’s too late: she’s got this seething hatred for the woman who “steals” her guy and she goes to extreme lengths to get him back (and I’ll just say: this book actually gets impressive dark for a few moments too). It’s that point that the book shifts over to Celine’s point of view. I do have to say that Celine never quite comes off as sympathetic as Violet did (before she went crazy anyway): it’s just hard to believe that someone so drop dead gorgeous would really have that much trouble finding a group of friends. She’s smart, but not a total book worm, and she’s still pretty, and in our society, pretty will get you into a lot of doors. Regardless, Celine is likable, she is sympathetic, and you do want her to get the heck out of dodge as soon as you can, so brava there.
And then his leads to my second point of knowing how much source material to use: there are no seven dwarves. There is a family of seven people that happens to have some some little people in it in it, including our main male character Goose. Our “Prince” of the tale is a Justin Bieber analogue named Jonah Prince (and yes, the story goes for the technicality, but because of how it’s set up and the ending, it all totally works). Flinn even has the sense to subvert the ending of the tale which I am super glad for and was completely the right decision.
All told, Mirrored is a very enjoyable retelling and anyone who enjoys genre YA (fans or otherwise of retellings) should enjoy this book. It came out yesterday, so give it a look!
Verdict: Buy It