The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

It was the closest kingdom to the queen’s, as the crow flies, but not even the crows flew it.

You may think you know this story. There’s a young queen, about to be married. There are some good, brave, hardy dwarfs; a castle, shrouded in thorns; and a princess, cursed by a witch, so rumor has it, to sleep forever.

But no one is waiting for a noble prince to appear on his trusty steed here. This fairy tale is spun with a thread of dark magic, which twists and turns and glints and shines. A queen might just prove herself a hero, if a princess needs rescuing.

My Thoughts

I didn’t realize until I actually got the book that this was a short story but it’s a good retelling of the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. I especially enjoyed the illustrations that went along with the story- very well done and it brought the story to life for the reader.

I think what I like most about fairy tale retelling is that you never know where the author is going to take you with this retell. Gaiman rarely disappoints me with any of his stories so I was intrigued with what he would do with this story. I’m REALLY happy that I read this book. His retelling is such a great twist that you don’t see it coming.

You have the same setup as usual- powerful curse, sleeping beauty, many have tried and failed their bones testaments to their failures. The twist is that the Queen, who is supposed to be getting married, is the hero journeying to wake the princess. The Queen travels with her trusted Dwarf and they escape many sleeping, but active, town dwellers. Each town they enter, the sleeping come after them, trying to stop their progress to the princess. They are able to get passed and make it to the castle- covered by years of thornes, bushes, and roses, and also bones. The Queen and her Dwarf make it into the castle where the encounter the old hag. They rush past her and find the beautiful Princess. The Queen kisses the Princess, waking her..only to find..that the Princess is not a Princess but she is the Witch who cursed herself to stay young- sucking all the youth from the ‘old hag’ and peoples while she slept. The old hag, who has lived so long, and saves the people and the Queen, is the Princess- now so old she should be dust. The Queen thanks the Princess for protecting the kingdom and ridding them all of the evil witch.

I liked this telling because I honestly thought Gaiman was just retelling the story with a female hero as the the one who wakes the beautiful princess. But then he adds the princess is the witch, and the witch is the princess. I really enjoyed this retelling- I’m a big fan of fairy tale retellings, no matter how long or short.

4 out of 5 stars!


One thought on “The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

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