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Shadow Spinner (A Jean Karl Book) Paperback – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A young girl, Marjan, rescues the fabled Shahrazad from the Sultan's wrath in this exciting and thought-provoking novel from Fletcher (Flight of the Dragon Kyn, 1993, etc.). With her crippled foot, Marjan never expects to be dragged off to the palace, but that is what happens after a chance meeting with Shahrazadthe storyteller who wins her life each night with cliffhanging stories for the sultan, and who obtains a story from Marjan. Heartbroken at leaving her Aunt Chava and her Uncle Eli, Marjan confronts cruelty within the palace's lush interior, where wives and concubines can be executed at the sultan's whim, and where the Khatun, the sultan's mother, spies on everyone. Dispatched by Shahrazad to find more stories, Marjan sneaks out into the marketplace, where she eventually finds an old storyteller who tells her the end of a story of which the sultan has become fond. Beaten and imprisoned by the Khatun, Marjan escapes the palace, only to return and tell the sultan an allegory that enables him to realize his love for Shahrazad, and to spare her life. Despite the licenses Fletcher takes with the story of Shahrazad, the novel may entice readers into the pages of Richard Burton's far richer work; they will appreciate the power of storytellingthat it may expand the soul of even the most hardened listener. (Fiction. 12-14) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'a story of peril and intrigue beautifully written' Books for Keeps --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689830513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689830518
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ivy on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Arabian Nights, Shahrazad is background, and the implications of her condition are never considered. In Shadow Spinner, Fletcher has done a marvelous job of fleshing out the legendary storyteller and her situation.
Shadow Spinner starts 989 days after Shahrazad stopped the Sultan's murder of wife after wife by volunteering to marry him, then telling him stories so gripping, with cliffhangers so huge, that each one buys her another day of life. At this point, Shahrazad has given the sultan three sons and is growing desperate - she's running out of tales to tell, for one thing. Enter Marjan, who comes to the harem with her Aunt Chava, to sell things to the women. Marjan worships Shahrazad, and has collected tales all her life; she knows one that Shahrazad doesn't know, and gets caught up in the intrigue of the sultan's harem as well as Shahrazad's own story.
Marjan is a likeable character, and her experiences are great adventure. Still, the true center of the tale is Shahrazad, and the unexpected stength of the book is its villains. Unlike most YA and children's fantasy, the villains of this book are not all bad; Marjan in time comes to understand the reasons behind the actions of the sultan, his mother, and even her own mother, who hurt her badly years before.
This is a fun story on the surface, with a lot of food for thought swimming just underneath. It's a good read especially for young girls, and it should also appeal to adult fans of fantasy or children's lit. A winner.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lexie VINE VOICE on August 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
The story of Shahrazad has always puzzled me. This King kills his wives day after day and his people just let it happen? They didn't revolt? Monarchies have been tumbled for much less! Yet this slip of a girl manages to stand up to this King and save her people.

She has never gotten her proper due in my opinion.

Fletcher's book however is a decent step in that direction. Though about Marjan, we see what it must be like for Shahrazad. Night after night for years, constantly frightened and stressed that at any moment the wrong word, the word turn of phrase will get her family killed.

Marjan is just as brave and clever as Shahrazad, which is both a blessing and curse for women in those days. A muslim hired out to a Jewish man and his wife, her life isn't easy, but they care for her like a daughter and she is happy at least. Its not that Marjan does reckless things--impetuous perhaps, but not reckless. She emphasizes with Shahrazad and reveres her like a hero, willing to do anything (including putting her life at risk) to save hers.

The outside 'force' in the story, that of the Sultan's greedy, waspish, over indulgent mother Khatun, is necessary. Her actions are just this side of evil, but they are covered with 'I need to protect my sons!'.

Just as in life, in Shadow Spinner things do not end 'perfectly'. A measure of happiness for most, but no real 'justice' is given to Khatun's actions and Marjan is forced to flee the city, never seeing her Aunt and Uncle, or friends at the palace again. I could almost wish for a sequel, to make sure that Marjan's life hereafter isn't a let down after this adventure, but sometimes a story needs an ending.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Toledo on May 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
My daughter (age 9) wasn't much of a reader until Harry Potter came along. Although we'll be forever grateful to JKRowling for getting her hooked on reading, we've had a difficult time since then finding books that stood up to the comparison (at least in her mind). This is one of the few that have. It is absorbing and suspenseful--we read it aloud, and anyone in the family that is old enough to read was caught at least once sneaking a look ahead (strictly against the rules in our family!). And since I've always been interested in the story of Shahrazad, it was fascinating to see it fleshed out. It had never occurred to me what a heavy burden it would have been for her to save not only her own life but those of hundreds of other women by telling stories night after night.
Anyway--this is a great book, especially for reading aloud. It doesn't have quite the pizzazz or made-for-the-movies aura that Harry Potter has, but in my opinion, that's a good thing. And it finally got my daughter out of re-reading Harry for the umpteenth time and trying some new books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Prism Light on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Immediatly after reading the back cover of this book, I knew it would be a good one. The story was very descriptive and enchanting, with fun characters that each had an important role to play. The scenery was sometimes hard to imagine, and the pathways, stairways, passages and such were almost over-talked-about and described, but those two things are very minor when you're reading a book this good. It contains almost all genres, including mystery, romance, and adventure. The little mysteries are a big part of what keeps you reading for hours! Just a warning, don't hurt yourself trying to make sense of things, because it will all be explained later. I also really liked that the story was over 200 pages long, because I'm a fast reader when I come across a good book, and this one lasted me quite a while.

What I liked about this book, is that (though some may disagree) it was a lot like real life. The characters weren't constantly happy, and their needs weren't easily fulfilled. Even in the midst of happiness there was worry and a little bit of regret. Each character also had their own view to them, such as Shahrazad (a hero), Zaynab (the kind little old lady), and the Khatun (the enemy).

I very much enjoyed this book! There are some parts in it that might disturb younger children (such as the sultan marrying just to kill his wife in the morning) and a little itty bitty bit of older people content. But other then that, I loved this book, and it is now one of my favorites!
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