Striking, compelling, and full of Anna-Marie McLemore’s signature lyrical prose, The Mirror Season is a heavy, but commanding piece of fiction. Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, The Snow Queen, this book is a poignant and powerful story about learning to heal yourself after trauma and rediscovering your own magic, whatever that may mean.
Graciela, “Ciela” Cristales knows pan dulce like the back of hand and then some. Gifted with a special family power, she can predict what piece of bread a customer needs at her family’s panaderia in San Juan Capistrano, California. Handed down to her by her bisabuela, the power has also attracted the attention of tourists, making her special gift a much needed piece of business. Beyond that, it’s incredibly special to her. Feeling like a lifeline, it’s a source of power and energy to her ancestors.
After a traumatic event takes place at a party, that all changes. Ciela is sexually assaulted by a pair of boys she hardly knows. She discovers a boy at that same party who was also sexually assaulted. After driving him to a hospital, the aftereffects of her attack ripple out forward. She loses her magic touch. Ciela is devastated at the loss of the hereditary magic. Instead, she is tormented by the pieces of mirror glass shards that seem to form out of ordinary objects, threatening to hurt her.
At school, she finds a kinship with the boy she dropped off at the hospital, Thomas Lock. The pair lean into each other as they have to deal with their abusers every day at school. In the process they learn about each other and heal with a little bit of charm and magic.
The relationships that characters have with one another, specifically, the one between Ciela and her ex girlfriend, Jess is refreshing and fun to read. There is no bad blood between these exes. Their friendship is smooth and soft. Jess works at Ciela’s family panaderia. She always feels genuine in her actions with Ciela.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how McLemore deals with such an incredibly sensitive subject. McLemore writes in a way that is both tender and like a force of nature. They do not back away from the effects of this event on both characters, but they do not linger needlessly in their pain either. Readers can feel the passion that McLemore has on the subject through the pages in the way that both Ciela and Lock react and feel. They have a lot of depth as characters. It’s incredibly moving how both begin to trust each other and reclaim the pieces of themselves that were stolen on that night.
The Mirror Season is a story that keeps love and sweetness at its core, even in the midst of trying and disturbing event. McLemore’s writing is infused with a special kind of magia that is sure to keep audiences bonded to the pages of the book.
The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore was released on March 16, 2021.
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