Gregory Maguire has made a name for himself with his revisionist versions of classic tales. My previous exposures to him were with Wicked (his prequel to the Wizard of Oz, with a far less malevolent "Wicked" Witch), and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (with his version of Cinderella). Mirror, Mirror - as indicated by the title - is a retelling of Snow White.
Bianca de Nevada (whose name roughly translates to Snow White) is seven years old as the book opens, living with her father in an isolated Italian estate. It is 1502 and the Borgias are in power. Cesare Borgia forces Bianca's father to go on a quest for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, a search that will take years. Cesare's sister, Lucrezia - who has more than a sisterly love for her brother - eventually grows jealous of Cesare's lust for Bianca and has her sent off to the forest to be killed, although this plan does not work as intended.
All the basic elements of the Snow White story - most well-known from the Disney movie - are here. There is (as just mentioned) the abandonment in the forest, the poison apple and the seven dwarves (actually eight, although one is separate from the rest). And, of course, there is the magic mirror. On the other hand, this story is also quite different from the familiar fairy tale, most particularly with the historical backdrop of sixteenth century Italy. The dwarves are quite different from Doc, Dopey, et al, instead being semi-divine or alien creatures.
My initial mistake with Gregory Maguire was assuming that his alternate takes on fairy tales would be funnier, as they are at least superficially parodies. I was therefore disappointed at first with Wicked, which, while not completely devoid of humor, certainly had few laugh-out-loud moments. Now I know what to expect with Maguire and - approaching Mirror, Mirror with the right mindset - I found it to be a good book, a fast, intelligent read.