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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.

 

Graphic Novel Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell

[Original story by Neil Gaiman, adaptation by P Craig Russell & chapters illustrated by Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, and Stephen B. Scott]

Published 29th July 2014 by Bloomsbury.

18738869Goodreads Synopsis: The first volume of a glorious two-volume, four-color graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s #1 New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book, adapted by P. Craig Russell and illustrated by an extraordinary team of renowned artists.

Inventive, chilling, and filled with wonder, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book reaches new heights in this stunning adaptation. Artists Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, and Stephen B. Scott lend their own signature styles to create an imaginatively diverse and yet cohesive interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s luminous novel.

Volume One contains Chapter One through the Interlude, while Volume Two will include Chapter Six to the end.

[View synopsis for The Graveyard Book here!]

My Review: I’m a really big fan of Neil Gaiman, and especially of his children’s novel, The Graveyard Book – so predictably, I was both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous when I was offered the chance to review the graphic novel! Excited, because I was intrigued to see the story told in a different, more visual formant… But nervous, because I read P.Craig Russell’s comic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline earlier in the year, and while it was okay, it didn’t seem to reflect the magic and horror of Gaiman’s story.

However, this adaptation of The Graveyard book was so different to the Coraline graphic novel; so original and magical and sinister at the same time. It’s really captured the essence of the original story, and is just as engaging as the book was. Though it’s been a while since I read The Graveyard Book, I could tell this was a very faithful adaptation of the story – and the images are exactly how I imagined they would be when reading the original book. I was completely captivated especially by one chapter about the Macabray dance, which was my favourite scene from the novel. It was so beautifully and flawlessy depicted.

The art in this graphic novel is stunning. Each of the chapters is illustrated by a different artist (and one chapter is a clever collaboration). I loved the diversity of the artwork – each was individual, striking, and perfect for each chapter. However, (and I get this with pretty much every graphic novel that does it), the frequent changes did annoy me a tiny bit, because I’d get used to one artist’s style then suddenly be introduced to another!

Overall, the graphic novel of The Graveyard Book was incredibly beautiful, and definitely exceeded my expectations. The adaptation was very faithful to Neil Gaiman’s book and the story was just as magical (and maybe even more so, in ways) in graphic novel form! Highly recommended to anyone. I can’t wait for the conclusion in volume two.

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of The Graveyard Book from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.