The Sleeper and the Spindle
By Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Publisher: Harper Collins
It was the closest kingdom to the queen’s, as the crow flies, but not even the crows flew it.
You may think you know this story. There’s a young queen, about to be married. There are some good, brave, hardy dwarfs; a castle, shrouded in thorns; and a princess, cursed by a witch, so rumor has it, to sleep forever.
But no one is waiting for a noble prince to appear on his trusty steed here. This fairy tale is spun with a thread of dark magic, which twists and turns and glints and shines. A queen might just prove herself a hero, if a princess needs rescuing. . . .
I have to be honest, I picked this up after a brief conversation with Lilly @LairofBooks regarding “uncle” Gaiman (quoting Lilly verbatim) and his fabulous storytelling abilities. Hand me a nice helping of Gaiman accompanied with worthy illustration, and I am so very sold. Money jumps right out of my pockets!
The Sleeper and the Spindle also happens to fall into one of my very favorite genres, retellings. And when it comes to Gaiman, he can tell it, retell it, spin it, you name it! At nearly 72 pages, this was about a 30 minute read. I would not have complained had it lasted longer 😉 But how often do we truly pick up a Gaiman title and not want more in the end?
So how do I review such a short story? Well the easy part is that I have no legit complaints. So we can omit those. I am simply going to highlight what I enjoyed about this charming fairy tale.
- There was no romance – You read that correct, and I am thankful for it. It is refreshing to be reminded that not all fantasy has to include a love story. The magic is not lost simply because there is no element of love. No where under the definition of fairytale or fantasy does it specify that there must be romance!
- The pace was fast and entertaining – I am absolutely thrilled when a short story is worth more than its weight, reminding us that even the smallest of tales can be rewarding. Too often, I feel that short stories and novellas are overlooked under the assumption that they lack depth or content. Sometimes, a nice read to fit perfectly with that morning coffee or our lunch break is not to be under appreciated.
- This is actually a play on two fairy tales – We quickly discover that our queen also happens to be a familiar heroine. She is none other than Snow White. This was my first experience in a “book” where there is an actual crossover, and I enjoyed it. Of course, I watch Once Upon a Time.
- The illustrations – Nothing compliments and completes a solid short story better than beautiful images, and Chris Riddell does not disappoint. His work is the perfect addition to a fantastic tale.
An interesting and slightly dark twist on a Sleeping Beauty, makes The Sleeper and the Spindle a worthy addition to any fantasy or fairytale collection. I will be looking to pick this up in physical format, as I feel the illustrations alone make it a necessity for my bookshelf.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐