Reviews

The Mirror Season, by Anna-Marie McLemore

rayasmth's review against another edition

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.75

itskitasai's review against another edition

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4.0

Really enjoyed this one. I will try remember to write a proper review later.

TW: Sexual Assault
Includes: Pan MC

killingboys's review against another edition

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5.0

we learn the ways that broken things can catch the light.

thinking about how so many people can relate to this. in small ways, big ways. how women specifically don’t always have the option of saying no. or having to give into something we don’t want for our safety. it’s a beautifully heartbreaking healing read. those are 3 words i can use to wrap this up.

i think it very well have taken the #2 spot of my list of fav anna-marie books. (1st of course being when the moon was ours.)

tw: sexual assault

giulia__'s review against another edition

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3.0

"People want to lose things on their own terms."

TW: sexual assault, rape, PTSD, victim shaming, slut shaming, bullying, racism, fat-shaming, body shaming, homophobia, drugs

Actual rating: 3.5 ⭐️

The raw messages of this novel were precisely that: raw. Powerful. Marking. Impactful. Thought-provoking.
All the issues and topics that were touched were also handled with so much care and with so much respect – I am in awe.
Race, sexuality, consent, body image, family, sexual assault, harassment, rape.

The main theme, though, I think was respect (or lack thereof). Respect of the other and of one’s self. Respect of who you are and who you were.
Beautiful.

The Mirror Season was, however, a hard book to read. It was heavy and it was emotional. It was a lot to take in – and that was partly because of the aforementioned themes, but not only.
It was a needed book, without a doubt. But it was also a dense book, and the culprit was the writing style.

Alas, yes.
For as much as I utterly adore and worship Anna-Marie McLemore and everything they do and write, I found this novel to be saturated with useless adjectives and similes that only made the reading experience somewhat unpleasant and slow-moving.

The number of times I have read the same three (3) metaphors – in the span of 320 pages – was honestly annoying and frustrating. It drove me crazy and ruined my reading experience (hence why I am not going to tell you the metaphors – I don’t want your reading experience to be ruined, because once you notice them, you’d not be able to un-notice them).
This constant repetition and this over-the-top writing style really rubbed me the wrong way :/

There is such a thing as too many words, and The Mirror Season unfortunately exemplify that.
I personally felt like the book was over-written.
Do not get me wrong, I am ecstatic that the author tackled and addressed these incredibly important issues, and that they also offered thoughtful and delicate commentary concerning one’s identity (both sexual and personal), consent and sexual assault. As already said: they did an amazing job, and they deserve all the hype and credit.
The Mirror Season was hauntingly beautiful.

But my general feelings (annoyed and frustrated) towards the writing style itself still stand.
The incessant repetition of the same metaphors, the overloaded number of adjectives and adverbs, the other-worldly comparison that were neither here nor there and the too flowery writing style ruined a bit this novel and did not allow me to fully and properly enjoy this book.

The messages were outstanding, the characters (both main and secondary) were phenomenal and complex, the plot was heart-wrenching and impactful.
Everything was very close to perfection, but the writing style. Ooof, baby. The writing style was not it for me, sadly. And that prevented me to be head over heels in love with The Mirror Season.

Nonetheless. This was still amazing.
I am a HUGE fan of Anna-Marie McLemore and I will, for sure, continue reading their books and support them and their stories.

"It costs something to listen to someone else’s story."

popthebutterfly's review against another edition

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dark emotional inspiring sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Mirror Season

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Hispanic, Plus Size, Pansexual MC, F/f romance mentioned (MC past relationships and a current one by a side character)

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For...:  Contemporary, magical realism, young adult readers

Genre: YA Contemporary (slight Magical Realism)

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 311

Recommended Age: 15+ (Rape TW, Language, Abstinence Discussion, Bullying, Romance, Sex)

Explanation of CWs: Rape is heavily discussed and it's something the MC and the love interest experience. There is slight language, Abstinence is also talked about, and there is heavy bullying. There is also 1 consensual sex scene and a few mentions to consensual sex.

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.

Review: I really liked this book, even though it took a lot out of me to read it. The book heavily discusses rape and consent and abstinence, which are always touchy subjects to me. I thought the author did well to craft a story like I hadn't read since Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The world building was well done, the characters were well developed, and the plot was heartbreaking. Furthermore, I loved how the author talked about sexual assaults on men and what they go through and I loved how well the author wrote a male character that does typically "feminine" things like crocheting or sewing. I also read this book in one setting, because the book demanded it of me, but I heavily advise if you're wanting to read this and are touchy on these topics as well, please take your time. Also, because this is a McLemore book, there is a bit of magical realism in it and the writing is very poetry like.

The only thing I didn't like as much about the book is that the format was a bit hard to know if I was in the then or now, but I think that was on purpose and if so it served it's purpose.

Verdict: It's really good! Highly recommend.

starryorbit12's review against another edition

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challenging emotional hopeful reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

A profund look at sexual assault and addresing many of the important but overlooked aspects. One being male victims, poking at the idea that women cannot assault men, as well as intersection of race and class in why woken choose not to report. It not just that the perpetuators are rich, white, popular, and from beloved in town. It also that the inherent suspect that is Ciela lives with for being brown and risk of her and Lock's scholarships if they're seen as being out of line. I love the way that the story of "The Snow Queen" is used to portray coping with trauma and the way that trauma can distort your view of the world and how you believe others do you. I also like how it touches upon memory of an assault. Just in Lock not being able to remember while Ciela does, but also Ciela's is also just as distorted as her reality as a way to cope. A part of coming to terms with her assault is her acknowledging what she's changed to live with the assault particularly how her and Lock's assault intertwine. The perpetrators the book are really the only thing that I didn't like so much about it. We have two girls two boys, and all four of them are practically interchangeable. They're all also comically evil. They're mean and act disgustingly towards others, but there also somehow popular. They thought that Ciela would be grateful for what they did. They just act and perceive the world in such a war twisted way that they don't feel like people or even characters. Instead, the more like characters that you would find in an educational video against sexual assault in a health class. They don't seem enjoy doing things outside of making others miserable.

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aboxfullofstorms's review against another edition

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5.0

I might come back with a review that is worded better in the future, but right now I want to thank the author for writing this. Thank you so, so much.

plkingsleylibrary's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

vivaldi's review against another edition

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4.0

Despite the heavy topics discussed in The Mirror Season, I really enjoyed this novel and it cements my respect for Anna-Marie McLemore of crafting amazing queer fairytale retelling that incorporates elements of Mexican culture & magic realism prose in the stories.

McLemore's signature writing truly shines in their latest novel: it's an emotionally brutal, enchanting, and also at times - mouthwatering, retelling of The Snow Queen. Written singularly from Ciela's first person narrative, this is both a story about self-discovery and a story of navigating through trauma. The imageries in this book is breathtaking and Ciela's headspace is solidly fleshed out, redeeming this McLemore's most emotionally engaging body of work to date.

While I really loved reading The Mirror Season and thought the writing was excellent I think there are a few things to be aware of. The most important factor being the content warnings: this novel explores a few heavy topics so it's certainly something to be aware of if you plan to read this.

The major content warnings are: sexual assault / abuse, homophobia, trauma, injuries, accidents, and blood mention

In addition to the content warnings, I also think the pacing of the novel is something to be aware of. Paired with dense prose, I believe this is one of those books that's best enjoyed when you give yourself some time to fully immerse into it, so if you're used to reading books with a lot of actions / lighter reads this might not be for you.

A few minor disclaimers aside, The Mirror Season might be Anna-Marie McLemore's best writing to date. Its excellent storytelling explores heavy topics through an authentic and complex lens (that's rarely accomplished in books). Perfect for anyone who's looking for a substantial fairytale retelling and a diverse read.

darlingstokill's review against another edition

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5.0

4.75/5 stars.

Loved the way magical realism and the author's heritage were woven into the fabric of the story. Also loved the way it showed that trauma can make you an unreliable narrator of your own life. Gotta dock some points because I found myself having trouble suspending my disbelief with regards to the romantic aspect of how this one resolves, but overall, a great read.