Review by Lissa Sloan: Buffy's House of Mirrors by Kim Malinowski
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer made her debut in the 90s, first in film and later on TV, she was a bit of a revelation: a pretty, petite blonde who just happened to be the Chosen One when it came to killing vampires. Buffy was reluctant, even uninterested in sharpening her natural, superhuman gifts, but in the end, she had no choice but to become a super-powered action hero in leggings, chunky-heeled boots, and a leather jacket. While the TV series clearly dug into “high school as Hell” metaphors, unpacking the pain of mean girls, first love, growing up, and getting through classes with a passing grade, poet Kim Malinowski has different levels of Hell in mind. Step right up and enter Buffy’s House of Mirrors, if you dare.
Buffy’s House of Mirrors follows the unnamed narrator into a carnival funhouse where she examines herself and her relationships in an ever-shifting series of reflections, exploring body image, empowerment, and identity. Punctuated by Gabby Gilliam's bold yet simple illustrations, Malinowski’s poems are evocative and raw, consistently delivering powerful lines like, “No one can tell us how to live being us,” and “’Who am I?’/I cannot say/I have only been told.” The narrator takes off her Buffy-colored glasses and sings, dances, even raps her way through mirror after mirror, alternately comparing herself to and proudly standing apart from Buffy and Spike. Malinowski gets into the jagged corners of relationships, at her sharpest when holding the stake to her own heart. Whether reflecting on self-love, agency, or longing, Buffy’s House of Mirrors slays it!
Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.