Spindle’s End: A light, sweet, unhurried fantasy

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinleySpindle’s End by Robin McKinleySpindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Spindle’s End (2000) is Robin McKinley’s delightful and very loose retelling of the Sleeping Beauty (Little Briar Rose) fairy tale.

On the princess’s naming day, a bad fairy declares a curse, stating that, on her 21st birthday, the princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die. In an attempt to thwart the curse, a good fairy named Katriona takes the princess to live with her aunt in a swampy region called Foggy Bottom. There, without any knowledge of her true heritage, Rosie grows up happily with human and animal companions while her mother, the Queen, pines for her lost daughter.

After the opening scenes in which the princess is cursed, Spindles’ End bears little resemblance to the source material. The plot is slow and meandering for most of the novel, then abruptly changes pace as it comes to an odd, unforeseen, but not unsatisfactory, ending. The story features some charming friendships, a sweet romance, and an abundance of friendly and helpful animals.

Spindle’s End is best read when you’re in the mood for a light, sweet, unhurried fantasy that you can cozy up with. It’s not for the reader who’s looking for thrills or a challenge, or for those who want to read a traditional Sleeping Beauty tale.

I listened to the new audio version of Spindle’s End released by Tantor Audio last October. Justine Eyre, with her lovely British accent, was a good choice for narrator.

Published in 2000. All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep – a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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One comment

  1. Marion /

    I can think of three friends who would love this book.

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