MIRROR MIRROR is set in Renaissance Italy, where Gregory Maguire draws a connection between the poison apple in the original Snow White story and the Borgia family's well-known appetite for poisoning its foes.
In MIRROR MIRROR Snow White is called Bianca de Nevada. She is born on a farm in Tuscany in 1495, and when she is seven, her father is ordered by the duplicitous Cesare Borgia to go on a quest to reclaim the relic of the original Tree of Knowledge, a branch bearing three living apples that are thousands of years old. Bianca is left in the care of her father's farm staff and the beautiful -- and madly vain -- Lucrecia Borgia, Cesare's sister. But Lucrecia becomes jealous of her lecherous brother's interest in the growing child and plots a dire fate for Bianca in the woods below the farm. There Bianca finds herself in the home of seven dwarves -- the creators of the magic mirror -- who await the return of their brother, the eighth dwarf, long gone on a quest of his own.