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“A brilliant achievement.”

Boston Herald

 

“Entertaining…profound….A novel for adults that unearths our buried fascination with the primal fears and truths fairy tales contain.”
Christian Science Monitor

 

Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author who re-imagined a darker, more dangerous Land of Oz in his New York Times bestselling series The Wicked Years, offers a brilliant reinvention of the timeless Snow White fairy tale: Mirror Mirror. Setting his story amid the cultural, political and artistic whirlwind of Renaissance Italy—and casting the notorious Lucrezia Borgia as the Evil Queen—Maguire and Mirror Mirror will enthrall a wide array of book lovers ranging from adult fans of Harry Potter to readers of the sophisticated stories of Angela Carter.

Topics: Magic, Italy, 21st Century, Folk and Fairy Tales, Revisionist, Dwarves, and The Renaissance

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061748042
List price: $9.99
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I don't know why I keep going back to Maguire's books. They're dense and depressing. I do, however, appreciate that the books make me think. After reading Wicked and Confession, I got "smart" with this one and scanned it, only reading the parts that made it a story for me. That means that essentially I skipped the first 160 pages or so, then allowed myself to skip the overly-long or depressing passages.

I may be onto something here - skim and skip. Maybe I'll get Son of a Witch, after all.more
This book has an interesting concept, but it was just too dry and dense for me.more
Gregory Maguire has taken the story of Snow White and transplanted it into 16th century Italy. He has changed her name to Bianca de Nevada and made her the daughter of Don Vicente, an expatriate Spanish widower, the roll of the evil queen is played by Lucrezia Borgia, who is lovely and vain. Her brother (and sometimes lover) Cesare sends Don Vicente on a quest, Bianca is left in the care of Lucrezia.Have you noticed in fairy tales, the good mother dies and the loving father remarries a witch? Then the father is oblivious that his child is being mistreated by her step-mother? For that reason I was glad of how this fairy tale was rewritten. In this account, the father is forced to leave his child in the care of someone he does not trust, from afar he makes an effort to protect his daughter, upon his return he learns he was not successful and goes in search of her. The history of the Borgia’s is both borrowed from and twisted into the mold of the fairy tale, all the elements of the fairy tale are there, the magic mirror, the dwarves, the hunter with the task of killing the beautiful young girl (perceived to be a threat by the evil step- ), and a poisoned apple.The book jumps around some, not being familiar with Gregory Maguire’s work, I had trouble following it, especially with the very short chapters and changes in narrators. There are still some things I didn’t quite understand, however, I still enjoyed reading this. I’m also not familiar with the history of the Borgia’s and am now interested in reading about them.This was a diversion from all my books on serial killers and sexual sadists. It was a rather quick read and readers who enjoy fantasy would probably enjoy it.more

The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.

In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.

She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ...

A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White -- and has a truth and beauty all its own.

I had a difficult time making it through this one. The pace was pretty slow all the way through, and the dialog and phrasing would often set my mind to wandering so next thing I knew, I wasn't even comprehending what I was reading. That's usually a strong indicator that I'm pretty bored, which sadly I have to say that I was throughout most of this book. :( I decided to plod through anyway. Perhaps it was because I enjoyed Wicked so much--both the book and the theater production--that I thought Mirror Mirror would eventually get there too, but alas it did not, and I was left feeling that my time could've been better spend with my nose in the next Sookie book which has been lying in wait on my night stand. :)

The reason I'm not giving this book a lesser rating is that even though I didn't enjoy it, I still felt that the author himself is a good writer. I didn't find myself criticizing the story itself as I was reading as I do with other books with really bad writing. So just because this book wasn't my cup of tea, and I'm sure others will agree that it's a bit slow-paced, there may be others who enjoy it a lot more than I too.

more
Another interesting retelling of a fairytale by Gregory Maguire. This story follows the general plot of Snow White but it is incredibly dark, gritty and set more in reality than magic. Maguire uses elements, and some characters, from the story of the Borgia family (a real-life Italian family). Their story is very glamourous and debauched (which is the general impression of the entire retelling I was left with).I still have trouble following some of Maguire's three-word plot jumps that he tacks on to ends of sentences or buries in the middle of paragraphs, but I guess that's just his style. Also the interpretation of the ending was very strange. I wasn't left feeling like I knew what had happened.more
What an awful book. I know many people just love Maguire's works. I guess I am not one. He writes in such a fashion that I feel he attempts a loftiness that isn't even legitimate. There are times when I reread a sentence that he has written and struggle with calling it a sentence even.This is the fourth book of his that I have read. I am not finding that I like his work more; rather I like it less. I suppose this proves that the way he writes just does not suit me.This particular title, though, was just awful. Te dwarves were not real, rather, they were something like animated stones that then became sort-of-real. What's up with that? I found it odd and awkward to try to figure out what he was attempting with that concept. At the end of the book it just ended. There really seemed to be no plot at all; just a long drawn-out story-line. It was really quite dissatisfying.more
While I didn't care for "Wicked," this one I really liked. The perspective that Cinderella wasn't so nice is really cool.more
You know, I liked Wicked a LOT, but I had this weird feeling after reading it that I wasn't too interested in Maguire's other work because the endless "alterna-tales" shtick seemed tiresome ... which doesn't make a lot of sense now that I think about it, because I never sat around and thought things like "oh Dorothy Sayers, if she's just going to keep writing books about Peter Wimsey solving murders, then why even bother?" But regardless, I was reluctant.I ended up loving this. He's not a perfect writer, but he's crafted this rich, rich story that feels like a completely legitimate foundation for Snow White. In his version, the events are taking place in renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia takes the role of wicked stepmother, although she more like a wicked guardian. And I just loved her by the end ... she is wicked, but so captivating. And maybe the best part was the treatment of the deer killed by the huntsman to provide evidence of the heart, which as a child I always thought was the most horrific part of the Snow White tale.more
A book that is ultimately style-over-substance, but I do love the style. Gregory Maguire's prose is rich and inventive in this novel. The main character of Lucrezia Borgia is well imagined, with the other characters getting handled only in short, incomplete bursts. Ultimately I wanted more to happen in the plot, but the style of writing always kept me going. Of the G Maguire books I've read, I'd place this after Wicked, but ahead of Son of a Witch and What the Dickens.more
This novel is far more sophisticated and thoughtful, and a more demanding read than Wicked, with its primitive, politically correct concepts that really amount to nothing new or original. Mirror, Mirror is not a story of Snow White -- we all know by now that Maguire concentrates on peripheral characters, not the traditional heroes -- it focuses on the misery and self-hatred that motivates the Wicked Stepmother -- in this story, Lucrezia Borgia, with whom, of course, the author took liberties, as he would with any historical character. This novel is a complex, intricate portrait of what seems like an unforgivable person, yet she can break your heart without making you want to forgive her. Through the dwarves subplot, Maguire also examines humanity and self-identity that sometimes can be achieved only through the eyes of another. If you *loved* Wicked, just rent the Disney version of Snow White; it'll make you happier. Mirror, Mirror is for well-read grownups with functional attention span.more
Sex with a squid? Pissing in a basket of onions? "Whores stripped of their clothes and required to pick up chestnuts with their nether lips?" A unicorn horn in the lap causing "cock trembling and releasing its scatter of milky pearl"? Hoo boy. I cannot believe I finished this book. Awful.more
This is an adult re-telling of Snow White. Set in Montefiore, Bianca de Nevada is 7 at the beginning of the tale living as an only child with her father after her mother died. Keeping her company are a potty mouthed cook Primavera Vecchia and not so holy Priest Far Ludovico. One day a noble couple come to visit, brother and sister Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia. There has been much speculation that Lucrezia had an inapprioriate relationship with their father, the Pope, and she has definitely had/is having one with her brother despite them both being married.Cesare sends Bianca's father off to retrieve a sacred branch from the original Tree of Knowledge said to have 3 apples still growing upon it. They will make sure Bianca is ok while he is gone. He has no choice but to leave her behind and is followed unbeknownst to him by a dwarf. Lucrezia finds a beautiful mirror that Bianca's father found and uses it to see other people and places. She is upset with Cesar makes a pass at Bianca and feels her looks are fading, so sends Primavera's son out to the woods to kill Bianca and bring back her heart. He lets her go and she wakes up years later in a cave surrounded by dwarves.This was a great tale. The dwarves were my favourites, they were so inhuman and well described. Definitely not the Disney versions with the more appealing names, these have names like Bitter, Nextday and Heartless. Like I said, it's definitely not intended for children. There was a really interesting section at the very end where Maguire talks about some of the history of the real Cesar and Lucrezia and where he got his ideas from which was fascinatinb. Definitely recommended.more
Interesting look at the Snow White Fable and includes The Broga Family, who were Machiavelli's inspiration for "The Prince."more
This book was sort of like a double retelling -- one of Snow White, and one of the Italian Borgias family. I really liked the use of historical events and people as the backdrop of this fairy tale, particularly the use of Lucrezia Borgia as the "evil stepmother." It made me wish I knew more about the family's actual history because I think I would have enjoyed it more. But as much as I liked that aspect, the rootedness of the story in history and politics made some of the more fantastical elements (dwarves that "evolved" out of rocks, the magic mirror, Snow White's multiple-year sleeping episodes on more than one occasion) feel a little out of place. Essentially, I wanted the fantastical elements to be as clearly defined as the historical and political elements, but they sort of weirdly just floated in and out. I also felt like Gregory Maguire laid a lot of groundwork in the first half of the book with the intricacy I've come to appreciate about his writing, but the second half felt rushed, as though he suddenly remembered he was writing a Snow White retelling and had to get all the elements in there. And I couldn't find a way to justify the way the narrative went beyond head-hopping to switch between third and first person with no apparent rhyme or reason (I'm sure he had one because he must have explained it to his editor SOMEHOW, but I didn't invest myself in discovering it). Still, he breathed a lot of newness into an old story without totally mangling it, and that's the measure of a truly good retelling in my book.more
Snow White set in 16th century Italy with the wicked stepmother played by Lucretia Borgia. Book contains an interesting mix of magic and history..more
I read this book quickly - I had a bit of time while travelling by train - and I really enjoyed it. Even more so than Wicked and Son of a Witch.I thought it was brilliantly placed in Renaissance Italy and I love the weavings of the historical references. Lucrezia Borgia was perfectly cast as the wicked stepmother - she exudes evil and corruption, along with her vile brother Cesare.While I knew the story, obviously, and how it would turn out, there were enough surprises to keep up my curiosity. The (eight) dwarves are beautifully described, nothing more than lumps of rock until Bianca's thoughts describe personalities for them, and I laughed over Next's doglike appearance.This is a long, long way from Disney, whose version I also adore, but this is a much more sadistic tale, and completely unsuitable for children.Delicious!more
This story is told with such richness and flair that I found myself drawninto the fantasy world created here. The snide sniping between the cook andthe priest sprinkles humor throughout a truly morbid tale. Maguire'sdwarves are creatures unlike any other I've encountered in fiction,unbelievable, yet, in this setting, completely plausible. He borrows agreat deal from the actual history of the time and blends it in a masterfulway with the fantasy of his story.I completely enjoyed this novel, moreso than I did the first Maguire tale Iread last year, "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," and that'ssaying something, since that book blew me away, too. This one gets a verystrong 5.more
Reviewed April 2004 After reading Maguire’s other “fairy tales” I decided to give this one a try. Based on the story of Snow White, Maguire takes lots of liberties with the dwarfs and Bianca (snow white). As with his Cinderella story this is about a very lonely girl (and woman) who is extremely sheltered by her father (who is made out to be some kind of hero in both cases). The household servants raise Bianca when her father is sent on a mission ot find a branch with three apples from the Garden of Eden. Very little is made of these apples and the misuse of them. Very little is made of the dwarfs and this history (they can make things appear ‘at will’ and travel through stone ‘eating it’ they see themselves as one unit and on and on) I found them more interesting. Sex is used a lot to add ‘something’ when it is not needed, maybe because the plot is so weak? Bianca has her first period very violently when she wakes up in the dwarfs house, the hunter has an orgasm when seeing a unicorn, the cook has sex with a squid...very odd use of sex. Te hunter has almost nothing to do with the story but it is he who takes the child into the forest to die, and it is he who gets the girl in the end. Altogether, I am glad I only wasted a half day reading this. 4-2004more
Like other Gregory Maguire books although it isn't easy to read the story is unique and an interesting take on the story of Snow White that we all know. This is not your popular Disney rendition!more
Based on Snow White, but quite tweaked. It starts off sloooow (I actually started reading it twice before this time) and it's difficult to keep track of all the narrators, especially in the beginning when voices from the end of the story narrate in the middle of something that's happening now. The language is a little artificial (on purpose) and it works quite well once you get into it. I'd say about half-way through, once you figure out all the players, the story picks up significantly and the whole story becomes really captivating. This is no Wicked, though... The big minus with the audio version is the voice for Lucrezia, who manages to overact something vicious and becomes ludicrous.more
Now this is a great twist on an old fairy tale! The setting is historical, but the events are supernatural, and the two blend surprisingly well. Difficult to explain but fascinating. Contains potentially offensive sexual references.more
This was a very good read, but, while it had the same basic characters and plot, the actual details were quite different. I think it would have been even better for me if had had realized this to begin with rather than expecting something closer but from an alternate view of the original story. Very good job however.more
A rather far removed version of snow white, with very intrigueing view of what the seven dwarves where. Much more plot and intrigue to this tale than the original.more
The ending was a little abrupt...almost like he hit his deadline and had to come up with something, and the beginning was slow to get my attention, but the middle was pretty good.more
good retelling of classic " Cinderella". And some good history thrown in. But nowhere near as good as " Wicked".more
After being put off by Lost, I was a bit dubious about Gregory Maguire's other works. However, it's lucky that I already have Mirror Mirror, because this one turned out to be worlds better! In fact, I very much enjoyed this novel, partly because I've been interested in the Borgia controversies. With elements drawn from history and fantasy both, this re-telling of Snow White closely follows the original version in one way, while being wholly different in another. Wonderful reading!more
I read this a while ago, and all I remember is it being disjointed, pretentious, and unsatisfying. Hated Bianca, hated the dwarves or whatever they were supposed to be. Casting Lucrezia Borgia as the stepmother was weak and caused one to wonder whether Maguire was simply trying to fit himself in with her mythology for the sake of absorbing some residual historical flair rather than true literary impetus.I'd call this my least favorite Maguire book, but to be fair I can't get 10 pages into Lost without getting bored.more
A very good retelling of the Snow White fairy tale.more
A kind of strange and magical retelling of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."more
A fascinating retelling of Snow White. It's always interesting to have fairy tales re-cast in a specific time and place; it seems to dampen, but deepen, the fantastical elements. My only complaint is that I didn't really quite feel I'd engaged with any of the characters; some would offer brief moments where I would be totally engaged, but then the author would shift viewpoint, or the character would disappear from the story for a couple hundred pages (as in the case of the woodsman). While Maguire strayed from his previous trend towards making the villian of the story the hero (as in Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), Lucrezia Borgia, the "wicked queen" in this version, is still the most well-rounded of the characters. I found that I wanted her to get her comeuppance, but I was also most interested in the story when she was around.more
Read all 32 reviews

Reviews

I don't know why I keep going back to Maguire's books. They're dense and depressing. I do, however, appreciate that the books make me think. After reading Wicked and Confession, I got "smart" with this one and scanned it, only reading the parts that made it a story for me. That means that essentially I skipped the first 160 pages or so, then allowed myself to skip the overly-long or depressing passages.

I may be onto something here - skim and skip. Maybe I'll get Son of a Witch, after all.more
This book has an interesting concept, but it was just too dry and dense for me.more
Gregory Maguire has taken the story of Snow White and transplanted it into 16th century Italy. He has changed her name to Bianca de Nevada and made her the daughter of Don Vicente, an expatriate Spanish widower, the roll of the evil queen is played by Lucrezia Borgia, who is lovely and vain. Her brother (and sometimes lover) Cesare sends Don Vicente on a quest, Bianca is left in the care of Lucrezia.Have you noticed in fairy tales, the good mother dies and the loving father remarries a witch? Then the father is oblivious that his child is being mistreated by her step-mother? For that reason I was glad of how this fairy tale was rewritten. In this account, the father is forced to leave his child in the care of someone he does not trust, from afar he makes an effort to protect his daughter, upon his return he learns he was not successful and goes in search of her. The history of the Borgia’s is both borrowed from and twisted into the mold of the fairy tale, all the elements of the fairy tale are there, the magic mirror, the dwarves, the hunter with the task of killing the beautiful young girl (perceived to be a threat by the evil step- ), and a poisoned apple.The book jumps around some, not being familiar with Gregory Maguire’s work, I had trouble following it, especially with the very short chapters and changes in narrators. There are still some things I didn’t quite understand, however, I still enjoyed reading this. I’m also not familiar with the history of the Borgia’s and am now interested in reading about them.This was a diversion from all my books on serial killers and sexual sadists. It was a rather quick read and readers who enjoy fantasy would probably enjoy it.more

The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.

In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.

She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ...

A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White -- and has a truth and beauty all its own.

I had a difficult time making it through this one. The pace was pretty slow all the way through, and the dialog and phrasing would often set my mind to wandering so next thing I knew, I wasn't even comprehending what I was reading. That's usually a strong indicator that I'm pretty bored, which sadly I have to say that I was throughout most of this book. :( I decided to plod through anyway. Perhaps it was because I enjoyed Wicked so much--both the book and the theater production--that I thought Mirror Mirror would eventually get there too, but alas it did not, and I was left feeling that my time could've been better spend with my nose in the next Sookie book which has been lying in wait on my night stand. :)

The reason I'm not giving this book a lesser rating is that even though I didn't enjoy it, I still felt that the author himself is a good writer. I didn't find myself criticizing the story itself as I was reading as I do with other books with really bad writing. So just because this book wasn't my cup of tea, and I'm sure others will agree that it's a bit slow-paced, there may be others who enjoy it a lot more than I too.

more
Another interesting retelling of a fairytale by Gregory Maguire. This story follows the general plot of Snow White but it is incredibly dark, gritty and set more in reality than magic. Maguire uses elements, and some characters, from the story of the Borgia family (a real-life Italian family). Their story is very glamourous and debauched (which is the general impression of the entire retelling I was left with).I still have trouble following some of Maguire's three-word plot jumps that he tacks on to ends of sentences or buries in the middle of paragraphs, but I guess that's just his style. Also the interpretation of the ending was very strange. I wasn't left feeling like I knew what had happened.more
What an awful book. I know many people just love Maguire's works. I guess I am not one. He writes in such a fashion that I feel he attempts a loftiness that isn't even legitimate. There are times when I reread a sentence that he has written and struggle with calling it a sentence even.This is the fourth book of his that I have read. I am not finding that I like his work more; rather I like it less. I suppose this proves that the way he writes just does not suit me.This particular title, though, was just awful. Te dwarves were not real, rather, they were something like animated stones that then became sort-of-real. What's up with that? I found it odd and awkward to try to figure out what he was attempting with that concept. At the end of the book it just ended. There really seemed to be no plot at all; just a long drawn-out story-line. It was really quite dissatisfying.more
While I didn't care for "Wicked," this one I really liked. The perspective that Cinderella wasn't so nice is really cool.more
You know, I liked Wicked a LOT, but I had this weird feeling after reading it that I wasn't too interested in Maguire's other work because the endless "alterna-tales" shtick seemed tiresome ... which doesn't make a lot of sense now that I think about it, because I never sat around and thought things like "oh Dorothy Sayers, if she's just going to keep writing books about Peter Wimsey solving murders, then why even bother?" But regardless, I was reluctant.I ended up loving this. He's not a perfect writer, but he's crafted this rich, rich story that feels like a completely legitimate foundation for Snow White. In his version, the events are taking place in renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia takes the role of wicked stepmother, although she more like a wicked guardian. And I just loved her by the end ... she is wicked, but so captivating. And maybe the best part was the treatment of the deer killed by the huntsman to provide evidence of the heart, which as a child I always thought was the most horrific part of the Snow White tale.more
A book that is ultimately style-over-substance, but I do love the style. Gregory Maguire's prose is rich and inventive in this novel. The main character of Lucrezia Borgia is well imagined, with the other characters getting handled only in short, incomplete bursts. Ultimately I wanted more to happen in the plot, but the style of writing always kept me going. Of the G Maguire books I've read, I'd place this after Wicked, but ahead of Son of a Witch and What the Dickens.more
This novel is far more sophisticated and thoughtful, and a more demanding read than Wicked, with its primitive, politically correct concepts that really amount to nothing new or original. Mirror, Mirror is not a story of Snow White -- we all know by now that Maguire concentrates on peripheral characters, not the traditional heroes -- it focuses on the misery and self-hatred that motivates the Wicked Stepmother -- in this story, Lucrezia Borgia, with whom, of course, the author took liberties, as he would with any historical character. This novel is a complex, intricate portrait of what seems like an unforgivable person, yet she can break your heart without making you want to forgive her. Through the dwarves subplot, Maguire also examines humanity and self-identity that sometimes can be achieved only through the eyes of another. If you *loved* Wicked, just rent the Disney version of Snow White; it'll make you happier. Mirror, Mirror is for well-read grownups with functional attention span.more
Sex with a squid? Pissing in a basket of onions? "Whores stripped of their clothes and required to pick up chestnuts with their nether lips?" A unicorn horn in the lap causing "cock trembling and releasing its scatter of milky pearl"? Hoo boy. I cannot believe I finished this book. Awful.more
This is an adult re-telling of Snow White. Set in Montefiore, Bianca de Nevada is 7 at the beginning of the tale living as an only child with her father after her mother died. Keeping her company are a potty mouthed cook Primavera Vecchia and not so holy Priest Far Ludovico. One day a noble couple come to visit, brother and sister Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia. There has been much speculation that Lucrezia had an inapprioriate relationship with their father, the Pope, and she has definitely had/is having one with her brother despite them both being married.Cesare sends Bianca's father off to retrieve a sacred branch from the original Tree of Knowledge said to have 3 apples still growing upon it. They will make sure Bianca is ok while he is gone. He has no choice but to leave her behind and is followed unbeknownst to him by a dwarf. Lucrezia finds a beautiful mirror that Bianca's father found and uses it to see other people and places. She is upset with Cesar makes a pass at Bianca and feels her looks are fading, so sends Primavera's son out to the woods to kill Bianca and bring back her heart. He lets her go and she wakes up years later in a cave surrounded by dwarves.This was a great tale. The dwarves were my favourites, they were so inhuman and well described. Definitely not the Disney versions with the more appealing names, these have names like Bitter, Nextday and Heartless. Like I said, it's definitely not intended for children. There was a really interesting section at the very end where Maguire talks about some of the history of the real Cesar and Lucrezia and where he got his ideas from which was fascinatinb. Definitely recommended.more
Interesting look at the Snow White Fable and includes The Broga Family, who were Machiavelli's inspiration for "The Prince."more
This book was sort of like a double retelling -- one of Snow White, and one of the Italian Borgias family. I really liked the use of historical events and people as the backdrop of this fairy tale, particularly the use of Lucrezia Borgia as the "evil stepmother." It made me wish I knew more about the family's actual history because I think I would have enjoyed it more. But as much as I liked that aspect, the rootedness of the story in history and politics made some of the more fantastical elements (dwarves that "evolved" out of rocks, the magic mirror, Snow White's multiple-year sleeping episodes on more than one occasion) feel a little out of place. Essentially, I wanted the fantastical elements to be as clearly defined as the historical and political elements, but they sort of weirdly just floated in and out. I also felt like Gregory Maguire laid a lot of groundwork in the first half of the book with the intricacy I've come to appreciate about his writing, but the second half felt rushed, as though he suddenly remembered he was writing a Snow White retelling and had to get all the elements in there. And I couldn't find a way to justify the way the narrative went beyond head-hopping to switch between third and first person with no apparent rhyme or reason (I'm sure he had one because he must have explained it to his editor SOMEHOW, but I didn't invest myself in discovering it). Still, he breathed a lot of newness into an old story without totally mangling it, and that's the measure of a truly good retelling in my book.more
Snow White set in 16th century Italy with the wicked stepmother played by Lucretia Borgia. Book contains an interesting mix of magic and history..more
I read this book quickly - I had a bit of time while travelling by train - and I really enjoyed it. Even more so than Wicked and Son of a Witch.I thought it was brilliantly placed in Renaissance Italy and I love the weavings of the historical references. Lucrezia Borgia was perfectly cast as the wicked stepmother - she exudes evil and corruption, along with her vile brother Cesare.While I knew the story, obviously, and how it would turn out, there were enough surprises to keep up my curiosity. The (eight) dwarves are beautifully described, nothing more than lumps of rock until Bianca's thoughts describe personalities for them, and I laughed over Next's doglike appearance.This is a long, long way from Disney, whose version I also adore, but this is a much more sadistic tale, and completely unsuitable for children.Delicious!more
This story is told with such richness and flair that I found myself drawninto the fantasy world created here. The snide sniping between the cook andthe priest sprinkles humor throughout a truly morbid tale. Maguire'sdwarves are creatures unlike any other I've encountered in fiction,unbelievable, yet, in this setting, completely plausible. He borrows agreat deal from the actual history of the time and blends it in a masterfulway with the fantasy of his story.I completely enjoyed this novel, moreso than I did the first Maguire tale Iread last year, "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," and that'ssaying something, since that book blew me away, too. This one gets a verystrong 5.more
Reviewed April 2004 After reading Maguire’s other “fairy tales” I decided to give this one a try. Based on the story of Snow White, Maguire takes lots of liberties with the dwarfs and Bianca (snow white). As with his Cinderella story this is about a very lonely girl (and woman) who is extremely sheltered by her father (who is made out to be some kind of hero in both cases). The household servants raise Bianca when her father is sent on a mission ot find a branch with three apples from the Garden of Eden. Very little is made of these apples and the misuse of them. Very little is made of the dwarfs and this history (they can make things appear ‘at will’ and travel through stone ‘eating it’ they see themselves as one unit and on and on) I found them more interesting. Sex is used a lot to add ‘something’ when it is not needed, maybe because the plot is so weak? Bianca has her first period very violently when she wakes up in the dwarfs house, the hunter has an orgasm when seeing a unicorn, the cook has sex with a squid...very odd use of sex. Te hunter has almost nothing to do with the story but it is he who takes the child into the forest to die, and it is he who gets the girl in the end. Altogether, I am glad I only wasted a half day reading this. 4-2004more
Like other Gregory Maguire books although it isn't easy to read the story is unique and an interesting take on the story of Snow White that we all know. This is not your popular Disney rendition!more
Based on Snow White, but quite tweaked. It starts off sloooow (I actually started reading it twice before this time) and it's difficult to keep track of all the narrators, especially in the beginning when voices from the end of the story narrate in the middle of something that's happening now. The language is a little artificial (on purpose) and it works quite well once you get into it. I'd say about half-way through, once you figure out all the players, the story picks up significantly and the whole story becomes really captivating. This is no Wicked, though... The big minus with the audio version is the voice for Lucrezia, who manages to overact something vicious and becomes ludicrous.more
Now this is a great twist on an old fairy tale! The setting is historical, but the events are supernatural, and the two blend surprisingly well. Difficult to explain but fascinating. Contains potentially offensive sexual references.more
This was a very good read, but, while it had the same basic characters and plot, the actual details were quite different. I think it would have been even better for me if had had realized this to begin with rather than expecting something closer but from an alternate view of the original story. Very good job however.more
A rather far removed version of snow white, with very intrigueing view of what the seven dwarves where. Much more plot and intrigue to this tale than the original.more
The ending was a little abrupt...almost like he hit his deadline and had to come up with something, and the beginning was slow to get my attention, but the middle was pretty good.more
good retelling of classic " Cinderella". And some good history thrown in. But nowhere near as good as " Wicked".more
After being put off by Lost, I was a bit dubious about Gregory Maguire's other works. However, it's lucky that I already have Mirror Mirror, because this one turned out to be worlds better! In fact, I very much enjoyed this novel, partly because I've been interested in the Borgia controversies. With elements drawn from history and fantasy both, this re-telling of Snow White closely follows the original version in one way, while being wholly different in another. Wonderful reading!more
I read this a while ago, and all I remember is it being disjointed, pretentious, and unsatisfying. Hated Bianca, hated the dwarves or whatever they were supposed to be. Casting Lucrezia Borgia as the stepmother was weak and caused one to wonder whether Maguire was simply trying to fit himself in with her mythology for the sake of absorbing some residual historical flair rather than true literary impetus.I'd call this my least favorite Maguire book, but to be fair I can't get 10 pages into Lost without getting bored.more
A very good retelling of the Snow White fairy tale.more
A kind of strange and magical retelling of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."more
A fascinating retelling of Snow White. It's always interesting to have fairy tales re-cast in a specific time and place; it seems to dampen, but deepen, the fantastical elements. My only complaint is that I didn't really quite feel I'd engaged with any of the characters; some would offer brief moments where I would be totally engaged, but then the author would shift viewpoint, or the character would disappear from the story for a couple hundred pages (as in the case of the woodsman). While Maguire strayed from his previous trend towards making the villian of the story the hero (as in Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), Lucrezia Borgia, the "wicked queen" in this version, is still the most well-rounded of the characters. I found that I wanted her to get her comeuppance, but I was also most interested in the story when she was around.more
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