Review: The Sleeper And The Spindle

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.

Thus far, my exposure to Neil Gaiman’s works has come through his children’s books: The Graveyard Book, Coraline, and now The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Like his others, this is a delicious, twisted little book. I wish I had nieces and nephews or cousins young enough to still enjoy being reading to! (I mean, reading aloud is – should – be for everyone, but unfortunately so many people forget that and think it’s just for babies… sigh. #Englishmajorproblems)

I’m suddenly tempted to see if the public library has any volunteer read-aloud programs I could sign up for, but on the other hand is it really worth the risk of having boogers wiped on me?

I’m picky about picture books. Sure, there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but there’s also stuff that should have never seen the light of day. The very best picture books can be enjoyed by adults as well as children: In fact, they may be appreciated even more by adults than by children, who may not pick up on all the nuances someone older would.

This is one such book.

Combining elements from “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” The Sleeper and the Spindle is beautifully constructed. It’s not quite a retelling, but its fairy tale influences are far too strong to go unnoticed, either. From Gaiman’s wonderful way with words to Riddell’s gorgeous yet eerie line drawings, this book is a feast for the senses.

Between the gloriously creepy atmosphere and the fact that all the main characters are women, this really reminded me of Maleficent… my favorite live action Disney movie. The queen leaves her husband on their wedding day to rescue a princess! And wears beautiful, badass armor!

When this book was published back in 2014 there was a big fuss about it potentially have LGBTQ+ characters, but that rumor wound up amounting to nothing. The queen does kiss the princess, but it’s definitely a motherly smooch. Which is fine. I’d love more stories about wlw royalty, but Gaiman didn’t tease us by promising there would be any romance either.

So. The plot twist at the end. I don’t want to give it away and ruin the book for anyone, so let’s just say that I did not see that coming. At. All. It was perfect! If I’d read this as a little kid I would’ve totally shrieked and run to hide under my bed.

Rating: 4/5

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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1 Response to Review: The Sleeper And The Spindle

  1. Lucille says:

    I found this one at my library and omg I was so so happy to see they had it! It’s SO GORGEOUS!
    I def need to get myself a copy because wow.
    Great review 😀

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