“Spindle’s End” – A Classic Fairy Tale of Sleeping Beauty With a Twist

Book Review : Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Spoiler Alert!

Magic can be a nuisance, and needs constant vigilance to keep it at bay making fairies’ services a necessity for the non-magical folk of the realm. The King and Queen (who are definitely not magical) have finally had a child, and have invited, by lottery, a representative from every city in the kingdom to the infant’s name day celebration. After winning the lottery to go to the castle, Katriona is mysteriously told by her aunt that she will like the new princess.

At the name day celebration the fairy god-mothers give the princess ridiculous gifts, such as, teeth that will shine as pearls and flawless embroidery. When Pernicia arrives to claim victory from an old slight at the expense of the baby princess, Katriona unexpectantly finds her self in the middle of a royal intrigue.

Adult Point of View

I enjoy McKinley’s imagination and creative solutions in writing. Spindle’s End is retelling the tale of Sleeping Beauty and is written in a narrative style. I had read this book years ago and remembered liking it, I still enjoyed it and loved the characters.

I loved how the magic is described as scales, and there are odd saying from the land thrown in, and the variety of fairies – who, for the most part, are very practical. The animals through their instincts know by far more than the humans, and their part in helping the infant princess survive her journey to the safety of the Gig will make animal lovers happy. I have to say I don’t think I ever would have imagined having otters nursing a human child. I also thought it was interesting that the final solution is that Rosie relinquishes her birthright as the happy solution for herself, her best friend, Peony, the Kingdom and ultimately for Narl and her adopted family. The Queen might have felt a little short-changed, but that was of a secondary consideration. I particularly like the prosaic Narl and the anguish of Rosie as she discovers her love for the smith. It is also nice to see two girls form such a wonderful friendship when they actually have very little in common.

It is a little odd that Katriona feels like the main character in the beginning, while Rosie is the focus by the end of the novel. The final solution feels like a whirlwind, and a bit confusing, as the animals race, the house’s upheavals, the briar roses growing and jumping into the sky. The final confrontation between Rosie and Pernicia feels a little anti-climatic and uncertain. Is Pernicia really destroyed or just trapped in the earth?

Spindle’s End is a perfect summer read, with a light content, fun imagination and a unique perspective. And of course we always know that good will win over evil in the long run.

3.5 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

The teen, once again didn’t want to read this novel. C’est la vie.

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About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow cooked in a tagine. Weekly I get together with friends and go to yoga for a bit of mommy time. Some may find me quirky, I prefer to think I am one of a kind.
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