The Sleeper and the Spindle is just one of those few books that is worth buying because of its story and illustration. The gorgeously illustrated cover of the book is already enough to buy it. And the author made the plot so so spellbinding, giving a twist to a classic story.
The book is a cross-over retelling of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. It follows the story of a queen, Snow White, which on the eve before her marriage, decided to delay it and save her kingdom from an imminent “plague, a sickness, a curse, a spell” that is sweeping their neighboring kingdom. It’s sleep. The sleeping curse is sweeping the land and by estimate it will reach their kingdom anytime soon. She’s also then decided to save the princess who was thought to be enchanted by a witch and is now in slumber for 70 years.
The Queen had previously overcame an enchanted sleep and with her dwarf confidants who only sleep twice a year, they know they will be immune to the spell, and so they brave through the dark tunnels under the mountain that separates the two kingdoms, walked under the shade of the dark and creepy forest and ward off zombie-like sleepers towards the sleeping kingdom. What occurs next is not something that they did not expect as the sleeping princess is someone different from what they expected. Thus, the queen was left with a decision that will reshape her and her kingdom’s future.
Even before I opened the book and read it, knowing that it was written by Neil Gaiman, I know I am in for a ride. I only read his Coraline and The Graveyard Book and I did enjoy how dark, twisted and satisfying he writes. And he didn’t fail to captivate his readers AGAIN with this book.
The collaboration of Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell is so perfect that I am out of words to describe how magical this book is. It’s beautifully illustrated and beautifully written. The illustrator, Chris Riddlle, is one of the few that I can call a master of the arts. His hands seems to breath life to the illustrations making it appear that they move and speak. From Neil Gaiman doing the prose and Chris Riddell doing the illustration, the book is the product of two masters in their fields. Gaiman’s inventive and descriptive prose worked well with Ridell’s detailed and intricate illustrations.
The photos in this post doesn’t do the book any justice compared to seeing it in person. The hardback black cover has the sleeper and overlaying it that serves as the dust jacket is a translucent velum with the title of the book, name of the author and the design at the side which are rose vines. It’s so intricately done and it’s really visually stunning. The illustrations inside are flesh out black and white drawings with gold details. I love how even the small details of each picture are intricately drawn. Chris Riddel’s attention to details is really commendable. I love how the book was so sophisticatedly made.
This photo might put you off, but be rest assured that the book is not in any way end with Sleeping Beauty being with Snow White. The connection they made was in no way romantic. Snow White just, at that moment, became the most logical person to break the spell. The kiss is just to wake the sleeper. Read it to know why this is not just a simple retelling.
For a mere 69 pages long, it only only offers a surface-level story. Nothing deep and nothing that will make the characters dimensional. But despite that, the book contains clever twists and turns that I find engrossing. The ending was left hanging for interpretation which I like because the possibility of having a book two is open.
I love how the book put a new take on fairy tales that everyone enjoyed growing up. This book doesn’t have the prince that always saves the princess at the ending. In Gaiman’s interpretation, what it does have is bad8ss queen who changed her gown to a chain mail and grabbed her sword to save a fellow queen in need. The book highlighted the capacity of every woman to ward off villains in their own stories. Gaiman created a universe where women have the necessary faculties to stand on their own and who can survive without needing a hero to save their day. This book really breaks conventional fairy tale stories.
Overall, I recommend this book to everyone who adores Gaiman and Riddell’s works. This is a must have!
Author: Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Part of a Series: No
Release Year: October 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
No. of Pages: 69 pages
About the Author:
A popular writer of fantasy and the dreamily macabre, Neil Gaiman created the landmark comic Sandman and wrote the novella Coraline. He began writing in the early 1980s, first as a journalist and book reviewer. He moved into comics with Alan Moore’s Miracleman series in the mid-1980s and began working on graphic novels with artist Dave McKean. Gaiman and McKean’s Sandman ran for 75 monthly episodes, an industry phenomenon in the early 1990s (it ran from 1989 to 1996), that cemented Gaiman’s reputation for mature fantasy. He has since moved from being a popular underground author to a mainstream success through comics, short stories, novels, children’s books, television and movies. Gaiman’s novels include Good Omens (1990, co-written with Terry Pratchett) and American Gods (2001) and Anansi Boys (2005); his children’s books include The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (1997),Coraline (2003) and The Graveyard Book (2008, and a winner of the Newbury Award in 2009); his fantasy mini-series Neverwhere was broadcast by the BBC in 1996; he wrote the English screenplay for the animated feature Princess Mononoke (1997), the story and screenplay for MirrorMask (2005) and the screenplay for Beowulf. Coraline won a both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2003 and was made into an animated feature (2009) starring Dakota Fanning. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / About the Author text courtesy of Infoplease)