Oh Gregory Maguire, I loved Wicked so much, and I was so afraid, after I read the marginally terrible Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, that Wicked was a fluke, kind of how I played that amazing game of cribbage once and haven’t played it since. With Son of a Witch, you restored to me a bit of faith, but as the great saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you’re an asshole.
It is with a great, heaving sigh of relief, then, that I acknowledge your competence. Mirror Mirror is a good novel. It’s not great, but it’s good and it’s charming and it ties the story of Snow White (which, as far as I know, is fake) with the history of the bloodthirsty Borgias (who, as far as Wikipedia can say, were real), and I like that. I like to think that maybe Cesare Borgia, infamous object of Macchiavelli’s The Prince, once made a pass at an eleven-year-old Bianca (Snow White). Because then maybe fairy tales are real.
As usual, Maguire takes a great deal of license with the original material, inventing liaisons here and destroying family ties there. This time around, the ambitious and grasping Cesare Borgia sends Bianca’s father on a hopeless quest for the Apple from Eden, leaving her in the unwilling care of his sister, Lucrezia. Through one thing and another, Lucrezia becomes jealous of Bianca’s skin like snow and hair like ebony and lips like blood, and tries to have her bumped off. You more or less know how it goes from here. There is a shiny mirror, though it doesn’t speak, and there are dwarves, though they’re not what you think.
Mirror Mirror is a little more wandering, a little less certain of its direction than Wicked or even Son of a Witch, but in it Maguire has recaptured his easy, conversational manner. The book practically reads itself. I would never recommend it as a first Maguire-read, but it certainly wont turn anyone off the guy.