Spindle’s End by: Robin McKinley

This book has been on my shelf so long I am not even sure where it came from. It just sat there collecting dust as the cover didn’t really pull me in, and the tidbits on the back weren’t helpful either. But I put it on the list for this month because I thought the flowers on the cover were appropriate for the start of spring.

Well, it turns out this book is a Sleeping Beauty retelling. I’ve never read a retelling, but my love of all things royal made me hopeful.

Magic in this world is very strange. There are both fairies and magicians, but neither of them seem to have a complete understanding of the rules of magic. ‘Magic’ kind of does what it wants. Some of the people in the country even hire fairies or keep them nearby so that they can help keep normal items from changing into other things of their own volition. These magical beings can also ‘feel’ magic if they are in it’s presence.

Admittedly, this is my first true fantasy book in forever. I can honestly say that I haven’t picked up a fantasy book since middle school. (and it might have been required reading) I am not sure I enjoyed it…

There were so many rules and social norms that were explained in this book. This was interesting, because it helped me understand the world I was in. However, it felt forced sometimes. Like I would be getting into the flow of Katriona’s journey and then the author would be like “oh btw, nobody swims in this world because they think the water has something to with magic and fish are basically the devil.” I don’t know if this is a fantasy thing, but I found it very jarring.

This also has no real narrator, but rather it’s ALL description. Describing what a person said and how they said it and where they were and what they were doing. It was just a bit much for my tastes. For all the description, I had very little idea what the characters or the settings looked like. I know Rosie had short hair and that Narl didn’t have a beard but that’s about it.

For me, this was a book I had to consume with big gulps. I needed to be able to sit down for a while and let myself get swept up into it. This was a different reading experience from everything else I’ve read this year so far.

Storywise, I actually think I liked this telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale more than I expected. I will always love the original, and towards the end of this I was wondering if this would have a “happy ending.” It certainly didn’t end conventionally, but I appreciated that the magnitude of the kiss was not diminished. I loved that the princess had her own mind about things and was also going to play a part in her own destiny even though she felt shackled to it. Her love for her friend was perhaps the most beautiful part of the story.

Being a kitty mommy to 2 cats, I also rather enjoyed the personification of cats, specifically Flinx. I love the idea that cats would speak in riddles or circle-reasoning. Cats just seem so intelligent, but definitely in a different manner than us humans. That was a cool way to portray this, as well as the mystery that cats seem to have.

Will I be keeping this book? Nope. I enjoyed the story, and I’m glad I finally read this book that was on my shelf. However, I know the Sleeping Beauty story and won’t necessarily feel the pull to go back into this world. Whenever I watch or think of the traditional fairytale, I will think of the differences and the liberties it took that I enjoyed. If this book were shorter and didn’t drudge so much at the beginning I would consider it, but that’s not the case.

I feel a little bad getting rid of it – I always do with books. But this is part of my challenge, right? To read all the books I own so I know what I like and what I don’t. I liked the premise of this one, but not the format.

Who would I recommend this for? This is hard to say since I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I guess I could say anyone who really loves the Sleeping Beauty fairytale would get something out of this, as they would gain a new perspective on the life of the princess before she became ‘the princess.’


2 thoughts on “Spindle’s End by: Robin McKinley

  1. Usually, when I realize that I’m not crazy about a book, I just abandon it. Kudos to you for sticking with it, and finding good things about it, even though you weren’t a big fan. 😊


  2. Thanks! It’s part of my mission to read everything I own. Hopefully by the end of this, I’ll have an even better idea of what kind of books I like while also expanding my knowledge!


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