cover image Dark Shimmer

Dark Shimmer

Donna Jo Napoli. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-74655-7

A comparative giant on an island of dwarves, Dolce has grown up isolated and reviled. She learns the valuable work of making mirrors, but when tragedy claims her mother Dolce flees to Venice, taking refuge with a widowed noble; his daughter, Bianca; and sister, Agnola. Napoli (Hidden) crafts a gorgeous puzzle drawn from fairy tale and medieval history: when the bones of the story piece themselves together, a stunning, beautiful, and tragic reflection of Snow White emerges, with Dolce as a Wicked Queen whose evil begins in the absolute, sincere desire to do good. Using liquid mercury to make mirrors to exchange for the freedom of the dwarves the Venice nobility keep as slaves, Dolce dooms herself to sickness and madness, seeing her once-beloved stepdaughter as a threat. The initial narrative focus on Dolce gives way to include the entwined perspectives of Agnola and her dwarf-lover, Pietro, as they cope with Dolce’s madness, and Bianca’s growth as she takes refuge with seven dwarves. An achingly lovely, sometimes frightening reimagining. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)