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Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell

Published October 23rd 2014 by Bloomsbury.

IMG_2394Goodreads Synopsis: 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. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

My Review: Chris Riddell and Neil Gaiman are a brilliant storytelling pair – as I knew from reading Fortunately, the Milk, their children’s book. Neil Gaiman’s writing is always gorgeous and Chris Riddell’s illustrations always bring to life his characters in an unforgettable way. Consequently, when I found out about The Sleeper and the Spindle, I was really excited about reading it!

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The book is one of the most beautiful editions I’ve ever come across. The cover made me want to start reading straight away (Which I did!) and the minimalistic colour palette of black, white and gold makes the beautiful illustrations stand out. I fell in love with the look and feel of the book before I’d even started the story! I know it’s a book I’ll treasure.

I’ve been a fan of Chris Riddell’s work for years but I think his illustrations in The Sleeper and the Spindle are my new favourites – especially the two-page spreads and the endpapers! The character depictions are all so beautiful.

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I was aware the story would be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty – but didn’t realise that the clever twists would draw in Snow White too. The only reason I was a little nervous about reading it was that I wasn’t sure how I’d find it because it was a rewritten classic – would it stand out enough? There’s quite a big market in fairy tale re-tellings. I’m not sure why I thought that; Neil Gaiman’s spin on the well-known stories was fantastic, and I didn’t want to pull myself out of the story.

What I loved the most was how the classic story is there, but the stereotypical stock character’s aren’t. There’s no prince charming. Instead, the protagonist is Snow White, who leaves her land, delaying her marriage, to awake the ‘sleeper’ in her castle, while the sleeping plague sweeps over the land. It’s so fresh and different! I really liked the ending too, which left the story at a point that left me wondering about the character’s unwritten futures.

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Overall, The Sleeper and the Spindle definitely lived up to my excitement, though at just under seventy pages I do wish it was a little longer – I fell in love with the story so much. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on Sleeping Beauty – and a clever continuation of Snow White as well! The illustrations that accompanied the writing were gorgeous, and I think they fitted the story perfectly. Definitely recommended – The Sleeper and the Spindle will appeal to readers regardless of age.

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of The Sleeper and the Spindle form the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell

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