Publication date: October 12th 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads 1865 Hanau, Germany S ixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions...

Review || Broken Wish (The Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Publication date: October 12th 2020
Links: Amazon Goodreads

Hanau, Germany

Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide.
She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow. But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner—none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.

Broken Wish is the first in a series called The Mirror, written by different authors, spanning generations and the curse that afflicts them. Julie C. Dao kicks off the series with Broken Wish, a story of friendship and broken promises. Fractured fairytales one of my favorite things—if it's done right—and I will even read YA if the premise sounds promising. I know, I'm a YA snob. Most of the time it's the angsty romance that I can't do in YA. In fairytale retellings, I'm expecting it to be angsty so it's okay, I guess? (Don't judge me.)

Beginning in Hanau, Germany (the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, btw), a young woman named Agnes Heinrich befriends Mathilda, and their friendship is sweet and true. Unfortunately, they live in a time where different is to be feared and Mathilda is "different". Agnes and her husband can't have children and Mathilda agrees to help them in exchange for Agnes' friendship. Agnes agrees but breaks her promise to Mathilda, breaking her heart in the process. Years later, Agnes' daughter Elva discovers that she might be able to stop a vision of danger surrounding the village and her parents. She sets off on a journey to discover more about herself and the curse that befell her family all those years ago. That means hunting down the witch who set the curse in the first place. 

I loved this story.  The characters are fleshed out and the writing is beautifully stylized. All the components for a perfect fairytale are here: the witch, the woods, and a mirror. True to Disney style, there is so much to download from this. It's darker, somewhere between Disney and the original Brothers Grimm. There are a lot of Easter Eggs if you are a fairytale fan like me. While there's a bit of romance, there's definitely skew towards friendships and other forms of love like that of family. While it's technically YA, the focus on friendship is almost MG. 

Overall, it's a story that feels true to Disney, about finding out who you are, staying true to your word, and forging ahead even if you don't know how the story will end.