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Spindle's End Paperback – May 13, 2002
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Renowned fantasy writer Robin McKinley, author of the lush "Beauty and the Beast" retellings Beauty and Rose Daughter, has produced another re-mastered fairy tale, this time about the dreamy Sleeping Beauty. Much like in the original story, the infant princess, here named Rosie, is cursed by an evil fairy to die on her 21st birthday by pricking her finger on a spindle. That same day, Rosie is whisked away into hiding by a peasant fairy who raises her and conceals her royal identity. From that point on, McKinley's plot and characterization become wildly inventive. She imagines Rosie growing up into a strapping young woman who despises her golden hair, prefers leather breeches to ball gowns, and can communicate with animals. And on that fateful birthday, with no help from a prince, Rosie saves herself and her entire sleeping village from destruction, although she pays a realistic price. In a final master stroke, McKinley cleverly takes creative license when the spell-breaking kiss (made famous in "Sleeping Beauty") comes from a surprising source and is bestowed upon the character least expected.
Although the entire novel is well written, McKinley's characterization of Rosie's animal friends is exceptionally fine. Observations such as "...foxes generally wanted to talk about butterflies and grasses and weather for a long time while they sized you up," will spark reader's imaginations. It won't be hard to persuade readers of any age to become lost in this marvelous tale; the difficult part will be convincing them to come back from McKinley's country, where "the magic... was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk dust...." Highly recommended. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist McKinley embroiders and expands upon the tale of Sleeping Beauty, and creates a cast of action-oriented heroines. In a boxed review, PW said, "Dense with magical detail and all-too-human feeling, this luscious, lengthy novel is almost impossible to rush through." Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
In this imaginative retelling, Robin McKinley gives an alternative story. When the evil fairy, Pernicia, casts her spell, a fairy named Katriona is there. She won the lottery in her distant, small village to come to the name day of the new infant. She takes the baby in that moment of the curse and returns with it to her village. The trip takes weeks and the two are helped along their journey by the wild animals they encounter; the female badgers and rabbits and foxes providing the milk a baby must have.
The baby, Briar-Rose, is raised by Kat and her mother. They give a story about it being the baby of a distant cousin who needs a home. Rosie grows up in the village with no idea about the royal blood she carries in her veins. Instead, she becomes a horse vet as she has the ability to talk with all the animals she encounters. It's a good life, surrounded by love and joy but has the ruse worked? Will Rosie escape the curse laid on the babe twenty-one years ago?
This is a joyful book, full of spells and coincidences that turn out to push the story along. Rosie is no wilting sheltered princess. Instead she is a woman who knows her own mind and knows how to fight when it is needed. Robin McKinley has written several fairy tale retelling novels. She has won the Newberry Award for young adult fiction along with other awards. This book is recommended for fantasy readers.
Robin McKinley's strength is in creating a realistically developed and described world, and the one she creates here lives and breathes on its own. As you read, you find yourself believing all the fantastic details - the magic dust that settles over the land and must be scourged clean on a regular basis, the speech of animals and what they are interest in, the commonality of faeries and the emergence of child-magic, why spindle ends become carved works of art... She has created a world that feels just as real as ours, with amazing little details that leap off the page to make it a believable setting for a tale that, in the end, is as familiar even as it is reinterpreted.
The book really feels divided into two parts: while the whole book is written in third-person, the first part more or less follows the story of Katriona, and the second part is more focused on Rosie. The whole connected story tells of the cursed princess, the efforts Katriona and her aunt go to hide her, and later, as the truth emerges, how Rosie and her best friend Peony must work together to overcome the curse. The plot weaves tight around fantastically written details and characters, and the whole story moves seamlessly from featuring Katriona as a main character to switching over to following Rosie as she comes of age and determines how to deal with her dual nature - Rosie, the village girl, and the cursed princess the whole country hopes will triumph.
It's beautifully written, tightly plotted, and has a little bit of everything: adventure, fantasy, romance, mystery... I recommend it for anyone with even a modicum of interest in it. It's well worth reading, and I find myself coming back to it again and again, appreciating it more each time.
BUT, then it just gets better and better. It is so creative.
I liked the ending but it wasn't what I expected.....but good nonetheless.
Buy this book if you like fairy tale adaptations! I loved it. So did my 11 year old.