Broken Wish

Disney-Hyperion. (The Mirror). Oct. 2020. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368046381.
Gr 6-10–A Grimm’s fairy tale mashup that will draw in readers and hold their attention. Set in Germany in the mid-1800s, this story follows a young woman as she befriends but ultimately betrays a witch, then follows her daughter as she repeats a similar fate. Agnes moves into a cottage and begins a friendship with her neighbor, Mathilda, who turns out to have magical powers. Mathilda agrees to help Agnes have a child so long as she promises to remain a loyal friend. Agnes does not keep this promise. Seventeen years later, her daughter Elva is plagued by visions of the future and seeks out the same witch for help. By combining threads from multiple fairy tales (magic mirrors, mystical pregnancies, lucky fish), Dao creates a fascinating world where all the stories are both true and untrue. Although novels set in Northern Europe in the 1800s are often culturally homogenous, and the main characters here are portrayed as white, Dao touches on the immigration of other groups into Germany at that time, as well as having Elva see in the future that her descendents may be a different race from her. The ending will leave readers eager for a sequel. It isn’t a hopeful read, being less like Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted and more like Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch (without the sexual content), but this does not make the story any less intriguing.
VERDICT A must-have for fans of fractured fairy tales.

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