Author: Gregory Maguire
Price: $14.95 (U.S.)
Bianca de Nevada is just a seven-year-old girl living with her father, Don Vicente, at their beloved farm Montefiore. She has no relevance whatsoever to the life of a Pope's envious daughter, and therefore, Bianca is innocent to any crime charged against her...right? Wrong. When the young and beautiful daughter-of-the-Pope Lucrezia Borgia subtly forces Don Vicente to go on a presumably hopeless quest to find the Apples of the fabled Tree of Knowledge, Bianca is left stranded on her father's farm under the charge of Lucrezia herself. As the years pass, the hope of Don Vicente's return becomes less and less dominant, and by age eleven, Bianca still resides with Lucrezia Borgia. Bianca's growing charm and beauty begins to entrance those around her, leaving Lucrezia dismissed and very, very...jealous. Getting rid of the child seems the only way to go, but Lucrezia never counts on the involvement of seven (eight?) "dwarves," a stolen mirror, a repenting hunter, and Bianca's own persistence, and it's these very things that ultimately decide the fate of the trickster...and the tricked.
Bianca de Nevada----
Description: Bianca's age increases throughout the book, but she starts out at age seven and ends in her early twenties. Bianca is a polite, curious, caring, beautiful girl (inside and out) who dearly loves her home, Montefiore, as well as her loving father. She helps around the home, but Bianca doesn't really have any good, good friends because she keeps to herself and the servant-girls mostly ignore her.
Motivations: By age eleven, Bianca's hope is that her father will return home, but when she wakes up at the dwarves' house, her motivation is to understand the dwarves (magic?) and to be able to find her way home. The hope of her father's return still rests in Bianca's mind as well.
Growth: Bianca starts out as a curious seven-year-old with a small eye for trouble, and her curiousness doesn't exactly evaporate even as she ages. She does become more independent, especially because of the disappearance of her father, the only parent she has even known. Bianca's knowledge of the world increases as well. For example, she takes extreme caution when Lucrezia shows up at the dwarves' in disguise. By the end of the book, Bianca has become a smart, sensible young lady, yet I had the feeling that she retained at least some of her younger self's curiousness.
One of the strengths of Mirror Mirror was that it was very creative, in terms of taking a well-known fairy tale (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) and twisting it up so it had a fresh, innovative voice. I anticipated this to be a very predictable book, but on the contrary, I was surprised at many points throughout the book because of the creative turns the story took. Another strength with the book was that while some characters were based on characters from the original Disney story, each character had its own unique personality that was very interestingly expressed through dialogue, motivations, and basic interactment with each other. I also liked how there were additional characters not involved in the Disney story. This helped to give Mirror Mirror its ingenuity.
One of the weaknesses in the story was that it was a little confusing at some parts because of the fact that Maguire switched perspectives so frequently. Although that was a cool touch, it was also a little overwhelming sometimes when I was trying to grasp what had just happened. Then again, perhaps if I were older, the frequent switching wouldn't even make a dent in the understanding I had of the book (this wasn't a huge problem--just a minor issue). Sometimes it was confusing when the scene involved the "dwarves" because of the giant metaphor (was it just a metaphor?) that the "dwarves" were rocks. As the story progressed, though, it was easier to tell what was going on with the dwarves.
My favorite part of the book was probably when Bianca lived with the dwarves, especially when Lucrezia Borgia came to visit because it was climatic and--in the former mentioned--sometimes funny. The creative names for the dwarves also told a lot about their personalities, which was cool.
I thought that there were two important lessons in the book that kind of coincide. The first is this: What a person looks like on the outside doesn't always reflect who they truly are on the inside. The second: If you let greed and obsession overtake you, you will lose who you are as a person, because it's more important to appreciate who you are than wish to be something you're not.
Ending of the Book:
I thought the ending was very satisfying once I read it over and realized what had happened. The ending was satisfying because it wrapped up the book very nicely but also gave the reader room to speculate what would happen to Bianca and the rest of Montefiore in the future.
The genre was definitely fantasy, but it was set in a real time period (the early 1500s), which gave it--despite its unrealistic pieces--a rather familiar feel. I like how the author used Lucrezia Borgia, a real (now deceased) person too, because it contributed to the book's uniqueness.
Although I haven't read any other books by Maguire, I'd like to, especially Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West because it sounds interesting (in the point of view of the "bad guy" in the Wizard of Oz). Other books by Maguire include Lost and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 chocolate bars
Cover Thoughts: The cover I had was a picture of Montefiore in all its lush, green expanse, as well as seven of the dwarves traipsing up the path to the farm. In the middle of the cover, there is an oval hole that reveals the face of seventeen-year-old Bianca de Nevada, who is holding an apple. If you open the cover to the first page, you can see the picture of Bianca from the front, as well as what was concealed by the rest of the cover: Lucrezia and a man (either the hunter or Vicente, probably). This cover is really cool to me because it totally symbolizes the book in two ways: one, the cover looks like a mirror, and two, it shows that what's on the outside isn't always what's on the inside.
Appropriateness: In this book, there is sexual reference. As for the rating, I guess it depends on what you're used to in a book. I'd rate it Vampire, personally, but some might say Death.