Monday, June 6, 2022

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore


THE MIRROR SEASON was one of my Pride Month picks (the heroine is pansexual), but I didn't know much about it except that it was a loose retelling of The Snow Queen, which is one of my favorite faerie tales of all time. It is that, but it is also so much more. The premise revolves around the heroine, Ciela, realizing that she and the new boy, Lock, were both sexually assaulted at the same party. The culprits are some of the most powerful kids in their private school, whereas she and Lock are incredibly low on the tier. The assault leaves its mark on them, inside and out. Ciela finds that she has lost her gift to predict the pastries people want at her family's pasteleria, and Lock has lost his quiet gentleness, and has instead become a fount of anger.

I don't want to say too much about this book because ~spoilers~, but I basically devoured it in a sitting. Some of this author's other works were too fluffy/light for me to pick up, but this is the best kind of hurt/comfort romance that has two people taking solace in one another while trying to move on from past trauma. The relationship between Ciela and Lock had so much depth, and even though third-act breakups usually make me roll my eyes, this one actually made sense.

I could go on and on about the visuals-- the way faerie tales are used as a motif to express danger and trauma in safe, childlike mode expression; the birds that symbolize happiness and freedom; the use of ice and glass to represent freezing over trauma and shutting down emotionally. I loved the focus on food as a point of comfort, and the love that Ciela and Lock both had with their families. I also liked that healing was a central part of this book's storyline, and how the author represented healing not as a linear path but one that moves you forward and backward, sometimes not equally.

I don't normally read the author's notes at the end, but I recommend reading this one. They wrote this story from their own experience as a survivor, including an incident that mirrors that of the characters in this book. It's a beautiful, heartbreaking story with a happy, hopeful ending. Picture SPEAK or I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER, but way more lyrical and intense.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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