Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mirrors and Magic by Katina French

Mirrors and Magic
Author:  Katina French
Publisher:  3 Fates Press
Pages: 162
Release Date: July 31st, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for
an honest review

Neve Bianchi has always lived in the shadow of the big top, haunted by the death of her father, the famous magician Giovanni "The Magnificent" Bianchi. But Neve has discovered something that may change not only her fate, but the destiny of Lang & Perrault's World Famous Circus. Can she trust the charming Prince of Blades? Or will the wicked Queen of the Air win in the end?

Mirrors and Magic is a steampunk retelling of Snow White set in a traveling circus just after the turn of the century in the Clockwork Republics. The Clockwork Republics series is set in an alternate history where the American states never united and where alchemical magic and clockwork marvels create a world of wonder.

Steampunk and fairy tales, what more could I ask for? Since these are two of my favorite things, mixing the two seemed like it could be either a hit or a miss. Thankfully, this one was a hit, even against my high expectations. In a world lush with mechanics, some magic, and a little romance, an old story tale came to life in a new way. While it still had a little room for improvement, Katina French managed to capture the heart of the story, getting it right where it mattered.

In spite of my praise, Mirrors and Magic started out a little rocky for me. With steampunk novels, I always feel like less is more when you first open the book. The world we first step into with Mirrors and Magic is extremely steam-heavy, with tophats, goggles, and steam-powered vehicles all thrust into the first few pages. While it was exciting, it seemed a little generic at first impression. My initial thought was steampunk is much more than all that, and I always worry when books start out with goggles. Thankfully, as the story progressed that impression faded away. The vehicles and outfits made sense with the circus atmosphere, and even the monkey charmed me. 

One unique element of this book is the alchemy, which functions as a sort of magic in this society. I thought it was a creative way of adding the fairy tale twist in a more mechanical world. The circus itself was a great backdrop for the story of Snow White, and it felt like the perfect match. I did find the references to the circus "kingdom" and Neve the "princesses" as a little repetitive and unnecessary, but I also tend to like my fairy tale retellings a little vague: don't tell me who is who right away, let me slowly unveil that myself. 

The characters themselves were quite likable, from orphaned Neve to her dashing sword throwing love interest. I felt that the "dwarves" were a little secondary though, and I wished I saw more development with them. The Queen of the Air was a good villain, and I liked that we could see some of her back story and motivation. 

Overall, this was a great read and is one of my favorite versions of Snow White. I look forward to seeing more work by Katina French, and who knows, hopefully maybe even another retelling!


  1. You're correct; steampunk and fairytales make the best stories. Your enthusiasm for this book is contagious and I am going to check my local bookstore for Mirrors and Magic soon. I can't wait to read Katina French's work! :)

    1. If you pick it up let me know what you think! I'm always curios to see what other readers did or didn't like. I have a friend who is a professional storyteller, so it's always been fun to compare her thoughts on retellings verses mine. Hearing the dialog about books is probably one of my favorite parts of reading though!