The Mirrorwood by Deva Fagan

Although I love all of our Cybils finalists, not all of them are books that I would have loved myself as a child. I have been a fan of fairy tale retellings as long as I can remember, and 10-year-old me would have loved this book just as much as I think modern kids will.

Mirrorwood
by Deva Fagan

Atheneum, 2022

ISBN 978-1534497146

Read from a library copy

Fable and her family, who read as white, live on the outskirts of the magical wall of thorns that surrounds an enchanted castle.  Magical Blight has spread from that site, infecting Fable before she was born.  With no face of her own, she must borrow the faces – and energy – of her family members to survive.  But when a neighbor reports her to the Hunters, she (and her talking cat, Moth) flee into the forest and through the wall of thorns.  She takes the time on her flight to make a wish to the one of the Subtle Powers, Lady Mirachne, who set up the wall to prevent the Blight from spreading.  Even though her cat warns her that the Powers are not to be trusted, Fable feels that this is her best chance.  

Unsurprisingly, since they’ve been cut off for a century or so, the world on the other side is different than either Fable or her young hunter, Vycorax, were led to expect. It’s soon clear that the Blight affects the residents inside the forest much more than Fable had realized – and that Fable and Vycorax will have to work together to survive the Blighted landscape. Though Fable had wanted to ask a favor just of Mirachne, Lady of Dreams, she soon has the unwelcome attention of the trickster Lord Bannon, who created the Blight in the first place.  By the time she and Moth make it to the castle, everything she believed to be true has been turned on its head.

This is a lovely, gender-swapped reworking of Sleeping Beauty, with great characters (including a two-mother family in the village and a the few residents left in the castle) and lots of adventure, as well as deeper thoughts about developing identity and the dangers of a life lived not knowing what suffering is.  

Other great middle grade Sleeping Beauty retellings include Harriet the  Invincible by Ursula Vernon and The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell.  For YA retellings, try Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley, Spindle by E.K. Johnston, or Castle Waiting by Linda Medley.

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Books, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Print, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s