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Literature / Mirror, Mirror (2003)
aka: Mirror Mirror

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Where Disney, Grimmification and Historical Fiction come together...

I am a girl who did something wrong
I am the other side of the snow
I am a mirror, a mirror am I
Mirror Mirror on the wall
Who is the fairest one of all

Gregory Maguire's Mirror, Mirror is a revisionist take on the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (in case the title didn't tip you off).

Set in 16th Century Italy, the story centers around the circumstances surrounding the young Bianca de Nevada and her family's encounter with Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, two children of the Borgia Pope. Bianca is the only daughter of recently-appointed Don Vincente de Nevada. A widower, Vincente keeps Bianca isolated from the small country town, where she grows up used to being alone. Their quiet life is ruined when the power-hungry Borgia siblings arrive on their doorstep. In exchange for his daughter's safety, Cesare Borgia forces Vincente off on a seemingly-impossible quest to recover a branch which purportedly still carries three of the apples from the Tree of Knowledge. Vincente reluctantly agrees, but quickly becomes the prisoner to the Apple branch's keepers.

Time passes, and with the death of the pope, the Borgia family loses most of its political power. Cesare's military career likewise fails and he himself becomes terminally ill. In a desperate grasp for a political alliance with the de Nevada family, he attempts to rape the eleven-year-old Bianca. Jealous that her brother desired another woman in his last days, Lucrezia arranges for the girl to be covertly murdered. However, the hired killer spares Bianca's life whereupon she falls into the domain of seven mysterious entities with power over earth and stone...

Compare Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, other rewritings of famous fairytales by Maguire.

Not to be confused with the film Mirror Mirror (2012) or the tv series Mirror, Mirror (1995).

Mirror, Mirror Provides Examples Of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Best you can hope for from Gregory Maguire, really. Lucrezia and Cesare are dead, Don Vincente's still alive but fading fast, Primavera's literally lost her tongue, the dwarfs are all irrevocably mortal and Bianca's slept half her life. Oh, and her reunion with her dying pop is offscreen.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The only man Lucrezia truly seems to love is her brother Cesare. The mentally-impaired goose-boy is their child.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Cesare boasts of his (offscreen) liasons with both men and women. But most men were bi then anyway...
  • "Double, Double" Title: Its name is because it's a revisionist take on the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Dying Dream: Lucrezia has a Dying Nightmare in her final chapter.
  • Freudian Excuse: Cesare and Lucrezia didn't have much chance of normalcy from their upbringing... And mercury poisoning didn't help Lucrezia much either.

Alternative Title(s): Mirror Mirror