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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating milieu and characters, but too slow
In early sixteenth century Italy, seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives happily with her widowed father. But when a caravan arrives at her home in Montefiore, bearing the famous Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, her life is turned upside down. Her father sent away, Bianca is left in the hands of Lucrezia, who plans the girl's murder. Escaping into the woods, Bianca soon...
Published on 15 Jun 2004 by Kurt A. Johnson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
I love Gregory McGuire and Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister is one of my favourites. Mirror Mirror just isn't in the same league though. At points there are hints of his potential, but often it just doesn't flow and the idea of entiwining the Snow White story with the historical Borgia's is clunky; the metaphors either a little obtuse or way too obvious. Disappointing.
Published on 29 Mar 2011 by mandicat2005


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating milieu and characters, but too slow, 15 Jun 2004
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
In early sixteenth century Italy, seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives happily with her widowed father. But when a caravan arrives at her home in Montefiore, bearing the famous Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, her life is turned upside down. Her father sent away, Bianca is left in the hands of Lucrezia, who plans the girl's murder. Escaping into the woods, Bianca soon discovers a group of seven magical dwarfs...
I am rather of two minds with this book. On the one hand, the author does an excellent job of retelling the story of Snow White, placing it in Renaissance Italy, peopled with fascinating characters. On the other hand, the story starts out slow, and never seems to pick up the pace. Indeed, the story seems to drag along from start to end as if the author had a great idea for a story, but couldn't think up all of the details it needed. He obviously knows a great deal about Renaissance Italy, but he cannot combine the two elements of his story into the really fascinating story that it should be.
Overall, I found the book to be good, at times even very good, but it is not the great story it should be. I give it a guarded recommendation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, 29 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
I love Gregory McGuire and Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister is one of my favourites. Mirror Mirror just isn't in the same league though. At points there are hints of his potential, but often it just doesn't flow and the idea of entiwining the Snow White story with the historical Borgia's is clunky; the metaphors either a little obtuse or way too obvious. Disappointing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fairest of them all, 29 April 2010
By 
Mr. Kevin P. Futers "Who's afraid of the Bill... (Northumbria, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
Gregory Maguire continues to impress me with this retelling of Snow White.
He has cast the tale in the scenario of a political backwater in Renaissance Italy; as the daughter of a minor nobleman comes within the sphere of influence of one of the most reviled women of the period, Lucretia Borgia.
It doesn't take much to guess who the wicked stepmother figure is going to be, but don't expect the details of this story to follow the fairy tale exactly. The dwarves are particularly interesting in their origins and how they develop. I think their names in here should supplant the horrible Disney ones that have been forced on our culture.
The characters are all finely drawn and sympathetic - even the indolent Borgias are painted with a full pallet of colours, not just the blacks and greys that many villains receive.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Distorted Mirror..., 21 Mar 2014
By 
Valerie L. Pate (East Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
I wouldn’t go so far as to say “Wicked” was a one-off, and yet I have not found any other book by Maguire to be as successfully visionary. There was something so spellbindingly perfect about the way our familiar Oz was turned on its head. I’m beginning to believe, however, that the type of magic I long for when cozying up with another Maguire novel, may never be rekindled.

Snow White, known of course as Bianca, makes her home in 16th century Italy. For a bit of historical reference, I suppose, the legendary Borgia family feature in the story; with Lucrezia Borgia cast as the “step-mother”. I struggled a bit with this mesh of historical realism, but it was not that plot-point which truly left me feeling very unaffected.

Maguire seemed to bog himself down in the uninspiring detail. The language felt a bit clumsy, and sometimes overly ostentatious, as well. Snow White’s dwarves have been recreated numerous times, and in many guises, but I cannot decide of Maguire’s vision of them as humanoid lumps of stone was inspired or ridiculous. Although, some of the only scenes I actually found myself enjoying took place in the magical depths of the earth with the dwarves; and yet on reflection, the whole bit about them coming to terms with their “names” was a bit esoteric.

Maguire is a gifted author, and I haven’t given up on him yet. I just long to see his talents ignite the literary world once more. It feels as if he is biding his time in mediocrity until a better inspiration comes along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 31 Oct 2013
This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
I wasn't very sure what to expect when I started this book as the blurb was pretty ambiguous. What I found inside was a magical story with some very odd parts. I read it pretty quickly but I think it would take another reading to really appreciate all of the storytelling devices that Maguire used in this book. It was an odd, but very effective, mix of fairytale, fantasy and history. I would definitely recommend this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars DISAPOINTMENT AND TEASING, 4 Oct 2013
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would like have had a more complete story. its too disjointed,it is interesting though; one learns a bit of fiction thrown in with a bit of history, leaving one wondering.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good service, good quality book, 23 April 2013
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No complaints, all praise. Good good good good good good good good good good good good good good good good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A twist in a tale (FYI bears no relation to forthcoming movie), 15 Feb 2012
By 
R. A. Davison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
Gregory Maguire is Wicked. Literally. He is the author of the novel Wicked, a re-imagining of the Wizard Of Oz story told from the perspective of Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West. The novel then spawned the award-winning Broadway and West End musical of the same name. I adore both.

Therefore, picking up Mirror Mirror in the bookshop was not a hard sell. As Maguire in general writes updated or unusual versions of old fairy stories, it only took the title for me to conclude that the Snow White story must be the basis of this novel "Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who's the fairest of them all?"
I didn't read the back cover.

This is where it gets a bit weird, I planned to go to Florence in May, and was discussing it and aspects of Italian history when The Borgias, a powerful Italian family from the 16th Century came up.
Mainly because Showtime have replaced their exceptionally silly but good value "history" series 'The Tudors' with a new series about this family. Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI infamously had 7 illegitimate children, among them Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, and the surname became a byword for general debauchery and villainy.

After this conversation, I pulled my copy of Mirror Mirror out of the bag, turned to the back and found that fictionalized versions of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia appear in this novel. Freaky or what? It is what Jung termed a 'synchronicity of chance'. I seemed oddly destined to read it.

At university I studied Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber short stories, which themselves are modern re-tellings of fairy stories, or children's tales. I hate to say it given that Carter is highly regarded and I'm sure many would disagree but I think Maguire does it better. He's more accessible, he retains more of a fable like quality to his prose, and he seems to genuinely love the topic he's chosen to make himself known for: classic stories retold in new ways. Carter on the other hand seemed to be engaged in a writers experiment, to me, anyway.

Although it's Snow White and would be a comfortable read for a mature young adult, it's not a kids story, absolutely not, it's an adult version of the tale. Although there are dwarves, one is called Heartless and another Gimpy, there are no Dopey and Doc here. Having The Borgia siblings as characters brings all the seediness of their world : incest, murder and greed. Lucrezia steps in to play the Wicked Stepmother role whilst Cesare provides the storyline which leads to Maguire's Snow White: Bianca De Nevada being left parentless.

There is a school of thought which suggests that some of The Borgias Lucrezia particularly have had their personalities maligned by history, and by the urban myths that sprang up around their family. I don't know enough about this point to argue it. What is quite clever is that a 16th century woman was required to be evil, and rather than go down the traditional road with the story of a wicked parent/guardian, so overdone in practically every genre from Dickens to Harry Potter; Maguire chose to use a woman from history with an already established reputation.

I didn't LOVE this book, the way I LOVE Wicked, but it's really enjoyable to read and cleverly written. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes old stories told in new ways, anyone who liked Wicked either the novel or musical or anyone who just fancies something a bit different for a change.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, confusing and boring., 26 May 2008
By 
Philip Thompson "abby1710" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
The idea of basing this story on real people is a great idea but the slowness and the way the dwarfs were described really confused me and I didn't like that idea at all. Not a patch on his other books.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant stuff, 16 Jun 2005
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This review is from: Mirror Mirror (Paperback)
i just love these books, i think this is one of his best i really couldnt put it down, he has such a wonderful imagination and the way he combines fairy tales and history and makes it work so well is pure magic, i also love the way this book leads you on to wanting to find out more about the borgias, he manages to give you a gripping story with wonderful descriptions and also shock you too without being crass, as you read you see the whole world open up in your mind, the dwarves in particular, this book is a treat for your eyes and brain, i stayed up till 4.00am reading it, great stuff.
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Mirror Mirror
Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (Paperback - 4 Mar 2010)
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