3 out of 4 stars
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The fantasy genre has many faces, and not all of them appear as trolls under bridges or damsels in distress. Mirror, Mirror...? by Dodie Meister is a 128-page novella that might seem simplistic for a fantasy story, but the fantastical elements find their way into the plot in sneaky, humorous ways.
Milly is no longer happy with herself. She is forty-eight years old, she is dissatisfied with her appearance, and she has been abandoned by her cheating husband. At this point, Milly isn't sure what else to do with her life. However, her Amazon Alexa takes the initiative to do something about Milly's despair. Spooked by the Alexa's newfound autonomy and intelligence, Milly has a decision to make. Will she trust her electronic helper to make decisions for her, or will she trust her own judgment?
Mirror, Mirror...? is a cleverly constructed story about healing and redemption, and I was thrilled to watch Milly's personality flourish in such a short tale. She is a remarkably complete character, and her transformation happens right before the reader's eyes. The story almost seems to tell itself, progressing flawlessly without jarring the reader's concentration. Milly's sense of humor was raw and realistic, and I had no trouble whatsoever connecting with her as a character. She is so self-deprecating throughout most of the story that I wanted to reassure her myself. The way that she changes illustrates a message that anyone suffering from image problems should hear.
I have almost nothing negative to say about this book. The only flaw that I can point out is that the novella does not appear to be professionally edited. There are quite a few typographical errors and misspellings, though none were so severe as to hinder the reader's understanding of the content. I would have easily given Mirror, Mirror...? a rating of 4 stars, so this problem is especially disappointing.
As much as I enjoyed this book, I have to give it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars because of the many errors. However, the message that the story presents is worth a full score. Self-criticism, body image misconceptions, and feelings of inferiority plague people of all backgrounds. This book combats those harmful ideas with a creative solution. There is a good amount of profanity and suggestive material included in the story, but nothing that would be too overwhelming for the average reader. Due to the sensitive nature of the plot, I would only recommend this book to adults. Anyone drawn towards light fantasy themes would enjoy the story, and anyone could benefit from absorbing the positive message!
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