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Spindle Hardcover – December 6, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Following in the footsteps of Johnston's A Thousand Nights, this is a new spin on "Sleeping Beauty." Despite taking the perspective of Little Rose's potential savior, the story has a decidedly feminist slant, focusing on the princess's growth, power, autonomy, and eventual self-rescue. Johnston fleshes out the narrative with an adventuring party of two additional boys, a girl, and a malevolent female spirit manipulating a prince. Of particular note, this fairy-tale retelling describes characters as having dark skin. There are additional feminist touches, such as making spinning a creative (and gender-neutral) national occupation. The writing is a mix of stately prose and a conversational tone. The balance of fantastical elements and modern sensibilities, though awkward at times, will intrigue most middle to high school readers. VERDICT Hand this clever work to fans of the companion book.—Erin Reilly-Sanders, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The framework of 'Sleeping Beauty' plays out against a hot desert setting, with Yashaa playing the reluctant hero and Little Rose possessing far more agency, wit, and intelligence than is afforded to most fairy-tale princesses... Pleasing readers who would prefer their ever afters to be bittersweet."―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Despite taking the perspective of Little Rose's potential savior, the story has a decidedly feminist slant, focusing on the princess's growth, power, autonomy, and eventual self-rescue... Hand this clever work to fans of the companion book."―School Library Journal
"The most powerful stories encompass a paradox. SPINDLE is both mythic and true, old beyond reckoning and dazzlingly, gloriously new. You've known this story all your life; you have never heard its like before. The Storyteller Queen lives, and her name is E. K. Johnston."―Rachel Hartman, New York Times best-selling author of Seraphina
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The story is told through alternating first-person narration: Yashaa and the demon.
Johnstone takes a unique perspective on: Sleeping Beauty. Johnston turns her attention to the Spinners that are
also affected by the demon's curse.
Princess Zahrah enlist Yashaa and his friends to help her brake the curse and save the kingdom.
Spindle is meant to be a retelling of the ever popular Sleeping Beauty tale. There is a girl, there is a curse, and there is a demon. If she spins bad things are supposed to happen. Etc.
And for the most part I would say that Spindle follows this idea fairly well. However, unlike most books it is not told from the point of view of the cursed princess. Instead it is told from the point of a view of a boy whose whole life and everything he knows has been affected by the curse.
And the curse is ravaging the whole kingdom, especially the spinners. They get sick if they spin, so they can't make the thread that makes the cloth that makes the clothes.
After finishing up the first book, I was ready to dive into more of this world and to see where the author was going to take us next. To be honest, I was kind of surprised in the differences between these books.
The main difference that I noticed in this book compared to the last is that it is written differently. Where in book 1 we had no names to characters, pretty much all of the characters in book 2 have them. I think this is in part why I feel the unique voice that I had come to think of this series to have is gone for me. It feels less like a storyteller is telling it now versus someone of the story is telling it.
Also, this book is set quite a bit after book 1 took place. Different characters, different location, different different different. It will kind of refer back to what happened in book 1 at times and there is the spinning aspect that is really holding it together. Because, yes, just like in the first book, spinning is a HUGE part of the story. I guess you could probably have figured that out though just by knowing that it is based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale though.
All in all though, I really felt pulled in when reading this story. And while I wasn't expecting the change in writing style, I am okay with it. It still worked.
Oh...and this book really was starting to make me want to pick up spinning!
This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.
Honestly, I don't think I have the words to convey how wonderful this book is. It simply deserves to be read and enjoyed.
Yashaa's life changed the night the curse was laid upon the Little Rose. It might have been the princess who was cursed but it was Yashaa, his mother and their community of spinners who left their home in the castle and were forced into exile. Now Yashaa is grown and his mother is dying. He has little choice when she requests him to take his friends and attempt to make a better life away from their camp. She would never expect him to try and find the cursed princess and could never dream how Yashaa's life threads, and those of his friends, will become tangled with the princess's.
This book is the second book in the A Thousand Nights series. It is more of a companion novel, set many, many years after the events of A Thousand Nights. It was lovely to, from the distance of time, see how Lo-Melkhiin and the Storyteller Queen's tale continued and sparked the creation of a new story. Spindle is part adventure quest, part love story. You can see the threads of the fairytale wrapped up and expanded in the delicious details of this world and its vibrant characters. If the characters in A Thousand Nights remained anonymous, those in Spindle become as dear and familiar to you as old friends.
I think I loved Spindle more than A Thousand Nights. Kind of unbelievable, I know. A Thousand Nights was an unknown; a shocking, beautiful surprise. I started Spindle knowing what kind of story to expect and yet I was still blown away and delighted.
Something I love about E.K. Johnston's books are her strong female characters. And yes, Spindle tells the story of a princess's strength and determination, but it is also about the strength of family - because it is only by protecting those you love that strength finds its purpose. Spindle is narrated by Yashaa. I loved seeing the story though his eyes. His love for his makeshift family, his willingness to sacrifice himself to protect them, his humility, his ability to laugh at himself and his desire to dream make him a wonderful character. The comradery of his little band is so delightful - young, but resilient Arwa, dreamer Tariq and reliable and protective Saoud.
It's actually quite lovely to disappear into such a well-crafted fantasy again. And there is no compare for E.K Johnston's evocative writing and incredible story building.
The love story was just as enjoyable as the adventure. I was gleefully rubbing my hands together as I read Yashaa's initial distaste and condescension for the Little Rose. Because this is a fairytale after all and I know how fairytales end! And yet I never could have guessed how this story would unfold. I think this might be my favourite love story. One where a lad rescues his princess and yet never dreams of considering himself worthy of loving her until she shows him how.
Strength, love, determination, sacrifice. If you love fairytales, love stories, fantasy books or just excellently executed novels then Spindle is so very worth reading.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Spindle by E.K. Johnston!Read more