By Lexa Hillyer
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale
A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
It all started with a curse…
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
“One night reviled, Before break of morn, Amid the roses wild, All tangled in thorns, The shadow and the child Together were born.”
Spindle Fire comes in at an average rating of 3.35 stars on Goodreads.com. This fact , while not terrible, quite honestly breaks my book loving heart a little. I am very biased, as I instantly fell head over hills for this beautiful re-imagining of the classic tale, Sleeping Beauty. And well, we tend to place the things we love on a pedestal, which is where I feel Spindle Fire deserves to be.
Following two sisters, we are delivered a solid story brimming with fantasy and adventure. Aurora is presented as delicate and gentle, a romantic. Having paid the debt of her sense of touch and voice to the fairies, she is the opposite of her sister Isabelle who is headstrong and outspoken but has also paid her own price; her vision. In spite of their many differences, they share an inseparable bond. So when Aurora falls victim to a sleeping curse and the land is at risk of an invasion by the faerie queen Malfleur, Isbe (Isabelle) immediately sets out on a treacherous journey to save them both. But Aurora must brave her own voyage into the unknown as she awakens in a dark and tormented land.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Spindle Fire is that it is read as two wonderful stories that come together to form one amazing tale. Narrated through alternating point of views, we follow each sister on their personal quest for answers and resolution. For all of their opposite traits, Aurora and Isbe complement one another exquisitely. They have developed a system of communication that allows them to overcome their lack of vision and speech and share an admirable and endearing relationship as sisters. One appears almost fragile, while the other is more daring and rebellious. Yet, we soon discover that they are both equally matched in terms of courage and driven by love and loyalty. Despite all odds, they are willing to sacrifice everything for the chance to be together again and save the land and those they care for. In terms of female protagonists, they the sisters offer a healthy dose of diversity and complexity. If I had one complaint, it would be that I would have liked for the author to explore these elements further. I did manage to find myself adoring them both for a variety of reasons.
The setting and world building are ripe with magic and fantastical elements. Shrouded in a mystifying darkness, it effortlessly met my expectations as far as fairy tales go. Spindle Fire contains the very essence of dreams and nightmares and Hillyer has pulled everything together with what feels like incredible ease, creating something almost familiar but completely original and refreshing. Add the combined atmospheric facets of Aurora’s story and Isabelle’s high stakes adventure, and it quickly becomes a complete and well-rounded experience that I felt offered many promises and successfully delivered.
With engaging and seamless writing, this is fast paced read. And while there are certainly undertones of a love story occurring within (it is a fairy tale), I appreciated that Hillyer did not allow this to overshadow the real magic and narrative. With a conclusion that was satisfying while still allowing for a smooth segue into a sequel, I am highly anticipating the second book in this duology.
Recommending for fans of Marissa Meyer’s and Colleen Oakes . If you enjoy a good retelling or fairy tale, this is one to add to your shelves.