TITLE: The Sleeper & The Spindle
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Childrens
GENRE: Fantasy, Retelling, Middle Grade, Gothic
RATING: 4/5 Stars
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.
What I Liked:
- This is my fourth Gaiman book, and the most enjoyable of them all. It was partly because I'm a sucker for Fairy Tale Re-tellings, but also because I found Gaiman's writing delightfully engrossing. The man has talent of course, but he's got 'fairy-tale writing' down to an art. I loved his descriptive work and his ability to really set a scene, particularly as a few of the twists in this particular imagining were chilling to say the least. I was hooked from start to finish!
- The plot itself was fantastic. There were so many good twists and turns on the classic stories of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Gaiman put quite the feminist spin on the tales in question, and what's more, it felt different to previous stories I have read. There were a few twists and turns along the way that really took me by surprise too. In particular, the end was totally unexpected and managed to both warm and break my heart.
What I Disliked:
- This one is a short'n. In fact, at just 72 pages long, it took me less than an hour to read it. And therein lies the problem with a lot of Gaiman's writing that I hare dead so far, particularly his children's books: I'm always left wanting more out of it! This could have been a really good 300 page Fantasy adventure if it were padded out a bit, and I think it would have definitely earned 5 stars if that were the case because the rest of the ingredients were there. I would love to read an expanded, more adult version of this book!
What a wonderful book, complete with a gorgeous set of illustrations. Chris Riddell, the artist, does a gorgeous job of providing richly detailed, slightly Gothic drawings to spark the imagination and bring the story to life and his work was one of my favourite aspects of the book. This alongside a well thought-out plot and fantastic writing means I am a very happy reader. I just wish that Gaiman would pad his work out a little more.