the mirror season – anna-marie mclemore | review

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore


Standalone
Published March 16th 2021 by Feiwel Friends
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBT, Retelling
Representations: Pansexual Latina MC, Lesbian SC, f/f relationship, m/m relationship

Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis:

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.


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trigger and content warnings:

“Every moment of our life,” he says, “it goes with us. It lives forever. And a lot of those moments you don’t have much say over. So the ones you do, you’ve got to do everything with them. So that what lives forever is something you want to live with.”

After that night when the rose made of mirrors shattered, Ciela’s blood no longer hums with the familiar magic passed down by her bisabuela. I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful yet heart-wrenching this book is. While I was really invested in the story, I had to take breaks and pace myself. I’ll be thinking about The Mirror Season for days to come.

He remembered nothing but she has the memory of things that transpired that night. Where Lock is concerned, Ciela’s guilt weighs down on her. Losing her magic and finding shattered glass growing from plants or in her baking ingredients aren’t making things easy for her.

The horror and absolute heartbreak for what had occurred to them broke me. As the story progresses, Ciela realizes her memory isn’t whole. The trauma and devastation that both Ciela and Lock felt once they realized they were both sexually assaulted at the same party were painful to read. My blood pressure just skyrocketed whenever the perpetrators appeared.

I want to stand for what I am, how I love, how my broken heart still works. Even if there are cracks in me. Even if my heart is scar tissue around a silver of glass.

Ciela and Lock’s dynamic shifts when the situation changes. In the beginning, it was delicate due to their shared trauma. As they confided with one another, they found healing within themselves and with each other. Finding their voices to explain their situation to others takes a long time though. Ciela knows how the narrative would be spun if she, a queer brown girl, reported that she was sexually assaulted by a white guy while in Lock’s situation, there’s the whole stereotype that males can’t be sexually assaulted. Their friendship slowly blossomed into something more romantic.

As expected, Anna-Marie McLemore is an incredible storyteller. Layers upon layers were created not only in the plot but also in the characters. Inspired by the fairytale, The Snow Queen, The Mirror Season has elements of La Reina de las Nieves who is often portrayed as cold-hearted. Since I’m not familiar with the original tale, I’m not sure about the accuracy and how much was drawn from it.

Before he was ever someone I fell in love with, he was a friend who understood, who got it, who showed me there was earth I could come back to life in.

This is probably one of the most hard-hitting books I’ve read in 2021. Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing fully brought out the life in the words that they have carefully chosen to describe everything from the delicious pastries to the emotions of the characters. As this is a deeply personal book, do read Anna-Marie McLemore’s author’s note.

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