A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
It all started with a curse…
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
This was a very interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty. The only version of the story I’m actually familiar with is the Disney version, so it’s not surprising that this one is darker and more faerie-tale-y than what I know.
On that note, the faeries in this book are significantly less powerful than those in other fae stories I’ve read. They only have the power to tithe for one thing (ex: age, voice, sight), in exchange for something else. This is what happens to Aurora and Isabelle – Aurora loses her voice and sense of touch in exchange for beauty and something else that I can’t remember. Gracefulness maybe? Idk. She’s also cursed by Malfleur, and in exchange for lessening that curse, Isabelle’s sight is tithed away.
I love Aurora and Isabelle’s relationship. They both have disabilities that make communicating with each other practically impossible, so they invent their own version of sign language/palm reading. Isabelle’s the adventurous risk taker, whereas Aurora is a “proper” princess and romantic.
Before ever meeting him, Aurora is enamored with her betrothed, Prince Philip. However, days before her sixteenth birthday, the day she is supposed to meet and wed Philip, she and Isabelle are caught listening in on the council discussing Philip and his brother’s murder. While they still have to decide what to do about Aurora, Isabelle is to be sent to a convent, so instead of waiting for that she runs away with her lifelong friend and stable boy, Gil. Aurora, not wanting to be forever separated, tries to follow Isabelle, but ends up lost. She finds a cottage in the middle of the woods, and inside is a golden spinning wheel. From there, I’m sure you can guess what happens.
I find myself liking Isabelle more than Aurora. Unlike Aurora, she hasn’t ever let her disability stop her. She chooses to ride a not entirely tamed horse over fields she can’t see. She gets into all kinds of mischief in the castle. Once she hears about the sleeping sickness that resulted from Aurora pricking her finger on the spinning wheel, she goes to try to recruit Prince Philips living brother, Prince William, to wake her via true love’s kiss. Aurora on the other hand, has never tried to be anything but what her late parents and royal council wanted her to be. At least until she’s asleep. She grew a little by the end of the book.
I do have to say, I loved what true love ended up being. It’s not at all something I could see coming. I also quite loved the love triangle. It was unexpected, and I can’t decide who to root for. I also really enjoyed the faerie’s point of view chapters. There were a few moments when the story dragged a bit, but they didn’t last very long.
Have you read Spindle Fire? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite fairy tale retelling?