Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: October 23rd 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):
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.
I thought this book was just wonderful.After reading Gaiman’s Hansel and Gretel a few weeks back, I was expecting something similar – a beautiful retelling of a classic story, but without much else added to it. While I enjoyed reading Hansel and Gretel, I did find it a little disappointing.
This book, however, was spot on.
The title suggests a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and there are elements of that in this story, but there’s also hints of Snow White and lashings of Gaiman’s own imagination too.
I loved that the story didn’t really follow the classic fairy tale format: the only prince mentioned was blown off by the Queen in the beginning, and it was the Queen who went on the dangerous journey to save a neighbouring kingdom and wake the sleeper. The twist at the end took me by surprise and was just another layer of excellence in this wonderful retelling.
The writing was really beautiful and the illustrations brought it to life perfectly: the level of detail was just incredible and added a really creepy element to the story. Some of the sleepers were straight out of nightmares and I didn’t like to linger on them too long. I loved the touch of gold in the illustrations, it really added something to it.
This was a really magical read that turned the slightly flat fairy tales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into complex stories with characters you really invest in. I’d love to see another story like this from Gaiman and Riddell.