Cover: The Monster and the Mirror: Mental Illness, Magic, and the Stories We Tell  by K.J. Aiello

The Monster and the Mirror: Mental Illness, Magic, and the Stories We Tell

Aiello, K.J.

  • Revelatory memoir and cultural criticism that connects popular fantasy and our perceptions of mental illness to offer an empathetic path to compassionate care

    Growing up, K.J. Aiello was fascinated by magical stories of dragons, wizards, and fantasy, where monsters were not what they seemed and anything was possible. These books and films were both a balm and an escape, a safe space where Aiello’s struggle with mental illness transformed from a burden into a strength that could win battles and vanquish villains.

    A unique blend of memoir, research, and cultural criticism, The Monster and the Mirror charts Aiello’s life as they try to understand their own mental illness using The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and other stories as both guides to heroism and agency and cautionary tales of how mental illness is easily stereotyped as bad and violent. Aiello questions who is allowed to be “mad” versus “sane,” “good” versus “evil,” and “weak” versus “strong,” and who is allowed to tell their own stories. The Monster and the Mirror explores our perceptions of mental illness in a way that is challenging and tender, empathetic and knowledgeable, and offers a path to deeper understanding and compassionate care.

    Available September 3, 2024. PRE-ORDER NOW!

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  • K.J. Aiello is a mentally ill, award-winning writer based in Toronto, ON. Their work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, The Walrus, and This Magazine. They are still waiting for their very own dragon. Sadly, this has not happened, so their cats will have to suffice.

  • Published: September 2024

    ISBN: 9781770417083

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 272

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“The Monster and the Mirror asks us to identify the true villain among us: mental illness, or society’s unwillingness to accept it as reality for so many. A gutting, beautiful, and insightful book.” — AGA Wilmot, author of Withered and The Death Scene Artist

The Monster and the Mirror took my breath away.” — Christina Myers, author of Halfway Home

“For those of us who walk with the dragon of mental illness at our sides, The Monster and the Mirror illuminates the path.” — Carrie Mac, author of Last Winter

“Intricately researched, thoughtfully structured, generously and fearlessly told, this book is one I will cherish for a very long time.” — David A. Robertson, author of Black Water

“Raw, heartfelt, blistering, and wise, The Monster and the Mirror is a stellar achievement.” — Kathy Friedman, author of All the Shining People

“Deeply moving and raw. Aiello's prose weaves seamlessly between memoir, pop culture, and critical analysis. A stunning work.” — Linh S. Nguyễn, author of No Place Like Home