Title: The Mirror’s Tale
Author: P. W. Catanese
Bert and Will have always been trouble. Because they’re identical, they can play on their looks for even better pranks. But when they push their parents too far, the twins are separated for the first time in their lives. One of them will be sent to their uncle’s fortress. The fortress once housed the evil Witch-Queen, and an evil force lingers there still . . .
This is an interesting twist on Snow White. Set around a hundred and fifty years after Snow White lived and died, the characters from the original story have become faded bits of history to most folk. But one bit of history hasn’t died well enough. The mirror that seduced the Witch-Queen to evil is still around, and time has done nothing to diminish its power.
In terms of what it does with the original story, this is spectacular. The Dwergh (dwarves) are a nation at war with men, and these short-but-powerful diggers and warriors little resemble the cheerful Disney fare. The story can’t go too far into their culture but even the glimpses it can offer are intriguing. Similarly, the origin of the mirror, the story behind the cottage, and the relationship between Snow White and the dwarves are equally well-spun.
The only downside to the story for me was that it is based on Snow White, so it’s pretty obvious the mirror will be bad news, the Dwergh will be heros, etc. The original story was grounded and enhanced, not changed. So most of the characters follow the path you would more or less expect, but there were still surprises along the way.
I confess I read this story first of all the Further Tales because Bertram makes a later cameo in Dragon Games, and since I’d already met him there, I wanted to see his backstory. And it is nice having that bonus future glimpse, though the ending does point you in the same direction.
Overall, I think this is going to appeal most to those who like original takes on familiar stories. The gender-reversal of having a man fall under the mirror’s spell helps broaden the story beyond the traditional “jealous of her beauty” motive, the world is well-defined, and the plot keeps a fast pace. I rate this book Recommended.