Featured Review: The Mirror: Broken Wish (Julie C. Dao)
About This Book:
Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She's heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.
But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it's too late.
The Mirror: Broken Wish marks the first book in an innovative four-book fairy-tale series written by Julie C. Dao, Dhonielle Clayton, Jennifer Cervantes, and L. L. McKinney, following one family over several generations, and the curse that plagues it.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
BROKEN WISH is a beautifully composed fairytale. The book begins with the story of Mathilda and Agnes, neighbors who have begun a relationship by corresponding. Agnes has just moved to the area with her husband Oskar and she is thrilled to have made a new friend. However, the townspeople soon let Agnes and Oskar know that Mathilda is suspected of being a witch and make it clear that they should not be associating with her. Oskar, fearing being again ostracized, asks his wife to stop talking to Mathilda.
However, Agnes desperately wants a child, and Mathilda says that she knows some potions that could help. All she would ask in return is that they continue their friendship. Agnes accepts, but once she finishes the potions, she ghosts Mathilda. However, promises have power, and her broken promise is sure to set her life on an unwanted path.
Years later, her daughter Elva is a teenager and being courted by a boy she likes. Elva has a power to see the future, and she sees a terrible storm. Her parents had taught her to hide her ability long ago, but when she finds her mother's letters with Mathilda, Elva realizes that Mathilda may be able to help. However, fears and dangers will challenge Elva at every step along the way.
What I loved: The writing absolutely pulls the reader in, and this ends up being quite a page-turner. It has all the great markers of a fairytale, and I love the way it was composed with so many three-dimensional characters. There are also some great lessons about kindness and the dangers of gossip. Elva, Mathilda, and even Agnes were highly compelling and understandable characters. I appreciated that we got to see not only Elva's story, but also that of Agnes. While we may not agree with all their decisions, they were all fully fleshed out and endeared to the reader, so that we could see the complexity of their paths and understand their motivations.
The ending was shocking, and I absolutely loved the way it managed to surprise me. It was sad but beautiful, and once you read it, it feels inevitable. Dao really has a fantastic way with words that will pull you in and move towards this ending in a seamless way. With fully realized characters and great world-building, this is a really well written story.
Final verdict: BROKEN WISH is a fantastic YA historical fantasy/fairytale that I would highly recommend. The lush characters, world, and intriguing plot twists all make for an absolutely unputdownable novel.
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