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Spindle (Two Monarchies Sequence) (Volume 1) Paperback – May 11, 2017
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This book is a LOT like Howl's moving castle. In both, the girl is keeping a secret, the boy is a powerful/self-interested wizard trying to break her spell, she has to save him, he has magical doorways, she has magic she doesn't understand, he pretends to visit ladies in order to break the curse, she finds a dog person, he never explains enough, she's not as old as she looks, and they have to fight the powerful magician who cursed her. And the feel of the book and world was very Howl's Moving Castle-ish. In both, the magic wasn't explained, just assumed to be roughly instinctual. It was laid out in curse rhymes and threads and layers. In both, I would have liked a final five pages of denouement to wrap things up with a nice bow. I like tidy endings, like a short walk at the end of a sprint. As it is, this book closes when the story is is still mid-sprint.
How to explain what I loved?
Poly wore glasses. She was so perfectly the narrator, but the reader still knew more than she did. She kept forgetting the spindle, but the reader knew it was there. Her plans weren't brilliant, but they were interesting.
Some reviewer wrote that Luck reminded them of Dr Who. Not quite. He's more of a mix of Dr Who and Howl.
Onepiece! So much of what he said didn't make sense until paragraphs or pages later, which is neat trick. Well done, Gingell.
Fairytale retelling? Sort of. More of a fairytale extension. So, it didn't have the clues and familiar feel of, say, Sleeping Beauty, but the story was able to be surprising instead.
(Some retellings are ripe with references to the original tale, like Spelled or Heroes' Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Others are subtler, like Curse as Dark as Gold or my own Royal Deception. This book, if either, was more like the latter, despite a thorny hedge.)
I seriously had a hard time putting down this book. I kept reading while brushing my teeth and such. So fun.
The characters play off one another so well. Poly is sensible, logical, and ingenious, far from the girl-as-object stereotype that pervades most fairy tales. She guards her feelings and her memories well, even when she can't remember them. She's able to think straight in stressful circumstances and doesn't go catatonic over a broken heart (shocking, I know). In all, she's strong, independent, and an absolute darling.
Luck is determined, aloof, capable, and maddening in basically everything he does. I had no trouble at all envisioning him in his mud-spattered coat, striding through his scenes with the sheer confidence of someone who is always in control of everything. He's not in control of Poly, however, which is why the pair of them together is so entertaining to read.
And then there's Onepiece: mischievous, loyal, adorable Onepiece, fiercely protective of Poly, flagrantly destructive toward anything that threatens her. Reading him made me want my own Onepiece, but the truth is, I already have one, and he's exhausting.
The setting is an alien fantasy world, so even though this is labeled as Book 1 in the Two Monarchies Sequence, I was glad I had already read Masque and Wolfskin, which occur in the same lands. I was better versed not just in Gingell's style of writing, but the different nationalities and the nature of magic (and its variants). In fact, Spindle clarifies details that made me want to go back and re-read the other two books again.
This was a joyful, intelligent book. I had way too much fun reading it, and I plan on having just as much fun re-reading it in days and years to come.