“The Gilded Mirror” is K.E. Barden’s debut novel, and first installment in the Finding Ever After series. It was a stunning retelling. I won’t even make you wait to get to the nitty-gritty. There it is, that’s all you need to know.
But for those of you more interested in the finer details, feel free to continue reading.
We follow Eveline, the Seeker, Hansel, the Huntsman, Porchid the fairy and Malak the Troll on a mad hunt for Princess Snow. You meet others along the way, briefly touching base with the infamous seven dwarves and following their story.
Our heroine, fueled by a desperate desire to find out what happened to her father and seek revenge on The Sisters Grimm agrees to go along with Hansel and Malak. Little does she know, her involvement is not as cut and dry as she has come to believe. The growing trust and affection she feels is tested, both by deception and the trials that lay ahead.
I have always been a big fan of dark and twisted fairy tales. Retellings are, by far, one of my favorite genres. I leaped at the opportunity to read this book. I am so far from disappointed.
I found myself engaged in every page of this story. There were very few instances where my eyes glazed over and I wondered about the state of my laundry or if I might have left something out where it ought not be (which, in most other books, happens quite frequently). I was riveted, sucked into an unbelievable world with believable characters.
I personally love stories that allow you to see from many character’s perspectives. I grew up on high fantasy, so I was far from daunted or overwhelmed by the amount of voices Barden channeled. I can see how it might be intimidating to someone unfamiliar with following many storylines, but I feel that it was executed well enough (after creating a familiarity with these characters through the lens of the main character) that it flows quite nicely.
I also appreciated the development of every character and their stories. I appreciated the care that was given to their organic growth. Too often, it can feel like a character is forced to bend to make something in the narrative fit. I did not get that sense at all. Particularly with our headstrong main character, Eveline. She was unrepentantly, unabashedly herself.
There are a few criticisms I could level at this book. But nothing was glaringly off-putting. I did struggle a bit with the ‘action’ scenes. They were simultaneously very fast-paced, but somehow very long-lasting. I sometimes found myself getting confused as to what was happening, and to whom it was, resulting in re-reading passages a few times over.
In spite of that, however, I really did enjoy this book. I think it deserves my five-star rating. K.E. Barden did a fantastic job with this work, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.
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I received this book for free from the author in return for an honest review.