Cover Image: The Mirror Season

The Mirror Season

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Member Reviews

They always entice you with beautiful prose and magical realism - this one was no exception. My only disappointment was the heterosexual love story, which is unfair of me.
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Anna-Marie McLemore never disappoints. She writes books that are relevant to teens and young adults, but she doesn't dumb them down. Her books are lush and literary with prose that plays with magical realism in a way that feels authentic and excited. This book propelled me forward as I waited to see how Ciela would cope with her trauma, whether she would realize she didn't have to carry her weight alone. I fell for her as a character as I read on, for her quiet but determined defiance, for her love and passion about her identity and body. This was a must-read.
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This book!! What a heartfelt, genuine, heartbreaking story. I was hooked from the beginning. What drew me in was the cover, originally, and that it was queer. But I love Anna-Marie McLemore’s other books and feel that this is a MUST READ.
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Wow I loved this. 
The writing was so beautiful .
The magical realism elements were so well done.
The talk about dealing with sexual assault, consent, queer identity, and women’s bodies was perfect. 
I really enjoyed reading about Latino culture and the Spanish terms sprinkled in the story, most of which were in reference to pastries!
The family relationships and friendships were great. 
Finally, I thought it was smart that even though this is YA Anna-Marie McLemore didn’t shy away from sex and actually touches on the use of protection instead of ‘abstinence only.’
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This is a hard-hitting book that I think a lot of people should read. It is so well written and put me through an emotional roller coaster.
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Wow, this book. This was really hard to read at times but it was beautifully written.

This story is about Ciela and Lock, a boy and girl who are both sexually assaulted at the same party and the aftermath of it. Lock doesn’t remember what happened but Ciela remembers everything.

Since this covers such a heavy topic I wasn’t sure what to think going into it but it was written so well and with such care. There are graphic scenes describing the sexual assault so be aware of that.

There is also some magic sprinkled into this story which is a nice touch, especially as Ciela tries to find herself again after her assault.

Thank you to Fierce Reads and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What a amazing book! I feel in love with this one. The story is spectacular, all the characters are super vivid. I recommend with my heart.
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This was such a difficult book to read but so stunning and important. I have never read a book by this author before but now I am committed to read them all. This book had me sobbing and yelling at the room. So hard and beautiful and very needed.
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Read this book if you want to be repeatedly kicked in the stomach and horrified by how terrible teenagers can be. It's about two teens, who are sexually assaulted at the same party by a group of teens who continued to torture them with this knowledge throughout the school year. The story is horrific and painful and visceral in it's description of the events and the fallout, especially the methods Ciela uses to survive this terrible event. The emotion and reactions feel authentic and necessary.

Clearly that's not my problem with this book. My problem is how heavy the author relies on the same magical realism metaphors throughout the book. By the halfway point, I was rolling my eyes whenever Ciela started listing all the different ways she could help people with pastries or described the meaning of things turning into shards of glass. It works early on, but it's used so frequently that it becomes meaningless.

I completely understand this book must have been a very difficult experience for the author and all those involved in its creation, but I can't get past how the writing could have been tightened up so that the impact of the story and the various reveals didn't get watered down by the repetitive nature of metaphors that started feeling like filler.

Note: I received an e-ARC of this book for review.

We read this as a potential nominee for our internal Printz Award group. It was not chosen as one of the ten finalists.
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This book was honestly at times really hard to read. But it was so worth it to read in the end. It was heartbreaking, and beautiful, with really great writing. The author really does a great job in showcasing the emotions that fill a person after the trauma happens. The self doubt, the moments when they gaslight themselves, alongside the usual feelings of guilt and shame, and with the feelings of having no control over anything.  I think my main critique of this book is that the author tends to over-write dialogue and moments in this story. I felt that things like someone sighing in a book or explaining simple things could have been shortened. While I totally feel it added a nice lyrical aspect to the writing, at times it felt like things were getting drawn out unnecessarily. Overall I highly recommend this book, and I think everyone should read it, but at the same time this book is very raw and can potentially trigger things in people so again take a peek at the trigger warnings at the top before reading.
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This book has such beautiful and poetic prose. Everything about it was wonderful and it just made my heart ache.
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A retelling of the snow queen that's a rollercoaster of emotions. This retelling takes you on a journey with survivors of trauma and sexual assault. The serious subject matter of the rape of two teens made this a difficult read at times but I'm glad I stuck with it. 
I definitely recommend reading the authors note at the end.
Several trigger warnings should be noted sexual assault, homophobia, bullying, trauma.
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*I WAS PROVIDED A DIGITAL GALLEY VIA NETGALLEY IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST THOUGHTS. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*

I picked up this book based on Destiny’s (MyHoneyReads) recommendation, and as I always trust their opinion, I knew I wouldn’t be let down or disappointed. However, what I did not expect was to be completely destroyed by this book, while learning what it’s like to love reading again.

Writing Style –
Anna-Marie McLemore writes in such a flowery, almost poetic way. Their writing style is addicting and intoxicating. Once you get a taste of it, you won’t want anything else. I was completely pulled into their book, and I was not released until after I’d finished reading. That’s rare for me with books nowadays. It takes me a lot longer to fall into a story, but McLemore ensured that I’d be pulled in from the first page.

Characters –
McLemore wrote messy characters. They wrote them to be imperfect, and splintered, and prosperous. Ciela was a character I really empathized and felt for. Her entire story, all of her coping mechanisms, they all felt familiar to me–though under very different circumstances. She was written in such a way that you almost felt as though you were standing in her shoes, seeing through her eyes, feeling her exact emotions. It was scary realistic in that way, and I adored every second of it.

Meanwhile, Lock’s character was so different. McLemore handled toxic masculinity through his character, and they also pushed for that same messiness, that same splintering and imperfection. They made Lock be brittle but strong, and that’s something we don’t see often portrayed in Young Adult books. Either a side character is one or the other, or neither at all. But Lock’s character was both, and I loved seeing it on the pages.

Romance –
As I’m demiromantic, I’m probably one of the last people who should be commenting on the romantic aspects of a book. But for this one, it was like the relationship came alive on the pages. There were the ups and downs, there were the almost honeymoon-like phases. It was written in such a careful and attentive way that I yearned for more once it was finished at the end of the book.

Plot –
There were a few unexpected aspects to the plot that I hadn’t seen coming. A particular scene toward the end of the book came across a bit strange to me, in that it almost popped up out of nowhere. But for the rest of the book, I loved the plot that was given.

Magic –
This book came across as magical realism, and it was just that. This was a retelling of the Snow Queen, a story I’d never heard of prior to this. But one thing that stuck out to me was Ciela’s ability to tell what type of pan or pastry someone would want just by looking at them. The beauty of that magic was clear and outspoken on the pages. But when it got to the glass that consistently appeared throughout the book, I was a bit confused. It seemed like a coping mechanism for Ciela, but at the same time, there was no real explanation to it, and I felt a bit disappointed by that.

Overall –
This book was everything I could’ve asked for. There were some flaws to it, but the good parts outweighed those entirely. I am definitely a fan of Anna-Marie McLemore’s after reading The Mirror Season, and I fully plan on reading the rest of their books after this. For that, I rate this book 4.75 stars.
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This was a really hard book to read at times, but wow am I so glad that I stuck with it. Going into this one, I was really interested in the premise, but I didn't know if I would enjoy it because I have really struggled with McLemore's flowery writing style in the past. Luckily I am very happy to report that I absolutely LOVED the writing this time around and I actually ended up reading this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. With that being said, this wasn't an easy read. This book deals very heavily with sexual assault and even features depictions of it on page, so please tread with caution if that is something that you are sensitive to. But overall, I really enjoyed this and am definitely excited to try reading more from McLemore in the future!

CW: sexual assault, ptsd, homophobia
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I really enjoyed this book! This was my first of Anna-Marie McLemore's books and I will definitely be checking out more of their work. This book hit me really hard in the heart but the writing style wasn't my favorite, and I was feeling a bit bored about 60% through. I'm so glad I pushed through it because the ending nearly made me cry.
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I’ve been a fan of Anna-Marie’s work since I read Wild Beauty & have since read all of their books except one (only because I haven’t found it yet but trust that I will). Their work is so lyrical and soothing in its wording & settings that it almost feels like a comfort (at least to me). This book was no different in that sense but it was VERY different from their other books. It approaches trauma in a magical way that gives it *just* enough levity but doesn’t take away from the effects the trauma has on the main character and the person who shares in her trauma. It’s truly a beautiful book.
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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.
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This was a more realistic and less fantastical work for McLemore. Still fantastic. I felt this book follows the tradition of Laurie Halsey Anderson's Speak
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This is a story about a post traumatic growth… and broken glass. 

I’m torn on how to rate this.  The writing is lovely, and the author’s note references their personal experiences in connection to the narrative.  The magical realism is unique and interesting, and the level of detail about the ins & outs of the protagonists day to day life are well crafted and interesting.  I think this will be an important read for some readers in search of something to connect to after trauma.

So, why is this not the perfect book for me?  I think assault survivors should express themselves in whatever way they choose, and find most helpful… but, the concept of a fairytale retelling with a prevalent & somewhat convoluted sexual assault narrative thread throughout- packaged in a YA novel?  I don’t know that this came together in a way that worked for me personally as a reader.   There was one particular element that felt problematic in its execution & could potentially undermine other elements.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️. 💫  rounded to 4.

Thank you so much Netgalley &
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Striking, compelling, and full of Anna-Marie McLemore’s signature lyrical prose, The Mirror Season is a heavy, but commanding piece of fiction. Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, The Snow Queen, this book is a poignant and powerful story about learning to heal yourself after trauma and rediscovering your own magic, whatever that may mean. 

Graciela, “Ciela” Cristales knows pan dulce like the back of hand and then some. Gifted with a special family power, she can predict what piece of bread a customer needs at her family’s panaderia in San Juan Capistrano, California. Handed down to her by her bisabuela, the power has also attracted the attention of tourists, making her special gift a much needed piece of business. Beyond that, it’s incredibly special to her. Feeling like a lifeline, it’s a source of power and energy to her ancestors.


Feiwel & Friends
After a traumatic event takes place at a party, that all changes. Ciela is sexually assaulted by a pair of boys she hardly knows. She discovers a boy at that same party who was also sexually assaulted. After driving him to a hospital, the aftereffects of her attack ripple out forward. She loses her magic touch. Ciela is devastated at the loss of the hereditary magic. Instead, she is tormented by the pieces of mirror glass shards that seem to form out of ordinary objects, threatening to hurt her.  

At school, she finds a kinship with the boy she dropped off at the hospital, Thomas Lock. The pair lean into each other as they have to deal with their abusers every day at school. In the process they learn about each other and heal with a little bit of charm and magic.

The relationships that characters have with one another, specifically, the one between Ciela and her ex girlfriend, Jess is refreshing and fun to read. There is no bad blood between these exes. Their friendship is smooth and soft. Jess works at Ciela’s family panaderia. She always feels genuine in her actions with Ciela.

One of my favorite things about this novel is how McLemore deals with such an incredibly sensitive subject. McLemore writes in a way that is both tender and like a force of nature. They do not back away from the effects of this event on both characters, but they do not linger needlessly in their pain either. Readers can feel the passion that McLemore has on the subject through the pages in the way that both Ciela and Lock react and feel. They have a lot of depth as characters. It’s incredibly moving how both begin to trust each other and reclaim the pieces of themselves that were stolen on that night.

The Mirror Season is a story that keeps love and sweetness at its core, even in the midst of trying and disturbing event. McLemore’s writing is infused with a special kind of magia that is sure to keep audiences bonded to the pages of the book.
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