Monday, March 28, 2011

Arty - Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison

I had no idea that Persy had also read this book until I looked up Mette Ivie Harrison on Amazon and saw, underneath it, The Princess And The Hound. Who knew? So you're getting another Harrison offering (with a much more satisfied reviewer than Hound got).

In return for some firewood for her mother, Mira is traded to Zerba the witch. There, she meets Zerba's other apprentice, a beautiful girl who immediately takes Mira as her sister. Mira would do anything for her new sister... and is turned into a magic mirror for her love. Then, one day, the sister vanishes. Mira waits on the wall as a hundred years pass.

Then Ivana stumbles into Mira's life. A poor peasant girl, Mira finds Ivana easy to use. They set off and meet a merchant and his daughter, who take them in. Then, as the back of the book says, they 'are on their way to find a new kind of magic.'

Mira, Mirror is a retelling of Snow White at its basic plot... but there's so much more to it than that! It goes behind the fairytale, beneath it, then above it and beyond it. (Tying in Beauty and the Beast themes does nothing to disappoint me, either.)

The nature of magic is one of the best points. In Mira's world, magic is largely taken from the fading life of the dying. It's not a cute, pretty sort of ability. It had me sick at a few points.

Then there's the total grayness of all the characters. None of them are either all good or all bad, not even Mira or her sister. Mira uses Ivana and Talia, the merchant's daughter, in order to get magic. Talia, while intelligent and strong, is also arrogant, loud, and bossy. Sweet, obsequious Ivana is not much for bravery or, sometimes, intelligence. Merchant Minitz, Talia's father, who, while awesome, can be stubborn and hard-headed.

But they're all so amazing.

This is, of course, at its core, a fairytale, so some of the twists can be a little random or far-fetched. And Harrison tends to wander with Mira's musings. But those are little things compared to the loveliness of this book.

Basically, everything about it makes me happy, in that tragic way that only good fairytales with great endings can give. I don't want to say too much about it - you really should not know anything about how Mira ends - but, trust me, this is not a book you want to miss.

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