ARC Review: Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao

Title: Broken Wish

Author: Julie C. Dao

Series: The Mirror (Book 1)

Publication Date: Oct. 6, 2020

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Synopsis: 1865
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. 

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My Review:

The first book in the Mirror series, Broken Wish is a dark YA fairy tale about friendship, broken promises, and the importance of acceptance. Agnes and her husband have just moved to a small village in Germany where Agnes befriends Mathilda. Mathilda, a witch who is shunned by society, offers to make Agnes a potion to help her get pregnant in exchange for Agnes’ friendship. Agnes, desperate to have a child, promises but breaks this promise once she receives the potion since she and her husband begin to fear that they too will be ostracized from society. As retribution for the broken promise, Agnes’ child is cursed with powers of her own.

Elva has a magical gift. She can see the future when she looks at reflective surfaces like mirrors and water. Of course, Elva has had to hide her power from everyone because they fear what they don’t understand. When Elva has a terrible vision, she seeks guidance from Mathilda to help control her power and use it for good. Mathilda agrees to train her, and a friendship develops, though Mathilda continually warns Elva not to abuse her power. Will Elva heed her warnings, and will this new friendship heal old wounds?

Julie C. Dao is a wonderful storyteller, and I loved her writing style. The rich language and imagery quickly immersed me into this dark fairy tale. The characters are also really interesting. I loved Elva’s eagerness, optimism, and kindness, and Agnes’ conflicted feelings about friendship and fitting in. Mathilda, however, was my favorite. At times, she is strong, independent, and sure, while in other cases she is lonely, needy, and harsh. She has suffered injustices at the hands of intolerant people but is more wounded by the rejection of her friend.

I enjoyed the friendships throughout the story. Agnes and Mathilda had such a lovely friendship at first, and they seemed like they would have a long-lasting connection. They did, just not in the way one would expect. Their fractured relationship leads to an even more interesting friendship between Mathilda and Agnes’ daughter Elva. The author deftly examines relationships and how the bonds of friendship and family can strengthen or fall apart.

Another aspect of the story that I liked was that it focused more on friendships than romantic relationships. That’s not to say that romantic relationships are excluded from the story, but that they are not explored as dynamically or positively as the friendships. Strong suggestions about examining people’s true intentions and being loyal to the people you care about regardless of what other’s think are also really powerful.

I also liked the Grimm Brothers’ allusions woven through the story. Magic mirrors, family curses, glass coffins, and other nods to the classic fairy tales and authors are fabulous. They add a sense of familiarity to a unique and interesting story.

An interesting tale about accepting oneself and others, prioritizing friendship and loyalty over popularity and fitting in, and embracing the power of friendship, this is a YA tale with great messages! Thanks so much to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The strong messages.
  • The beautiful writing style.


This is a great book for readers who enjoy fractured fairy tales with strong messages and interesting characters.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao

  1. Wow, pretty uncool of Agnes 😅 I do like the sound of this one though and I do love a story with good strong friendships! Looking forward to giving this a try. Great review!

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