Probably best known for the fantasy novels The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley also has a gift for the skillful retelling of folktales. Although her work appeals to both adult and young adult readers, her themes, as in Deerskin, can occasionally be disturbing. This is not the case in Spindle's End, which is a delightfully light, though never superficial, reimagining of Sleeping Beauty.|
In a land where magic is as thick as dust and about as much of a nuisance, the Queen announces she is about to give birth. To make sure magic doesn't interfere with proceedings, no fewer than 21 fairies are invited to be godmothers at the princess's public Naming Day. Katriona, an apprentice fairy from the rural village of Foggy Bottom, is in the crowd during the ceremony, and witnesses the appearance--in a clap of thunder--of the wicked fairy, Pernicia, who delivers a curse: one day before her 21st birthday, the princess will prick her finger on a spindle, fall into a poisoned sleep, and die. Katriona flees to Foggy Bottom with the infant princess in order to save her.
For the next 20 years, the princess, known now as Rosie, grows up with Katriona. In describing daily life in the village--the spells, the animals, the ups and downs of human romance--McKinley gives us pitch-perfect dialogue, hard-headed whimsy, and a cast of vital human and animal characters. The plot is stirring and deft, and always overlain with the author's sharp-eyed wisdom. The ending is a happy one--mostly. McKinley understands that nothing ever turns out exactly as hoped, and that a little sorrow makes life's triumphs that much sweeter.
Source: Luc Duplessis,Amazon.com.
Renowned fantasy writer Robin McKinley, author of the lush "Beauty and the Beast" retellings Beauty and Rose Daughter, has produced another re-mastered fairy tale, this time about the dreamy Sleeping Beauty. Much like in the original story, the infant princess, here named Rosie, is cursed by an evil fairy to die on her 21st birthday by pricking her finger on a spindle. That same day, Rosie is whisked away into hiding by a peasant fairy who raises her and conceals her royal identity. From that point on, McKinley's plot and characterization become wildly inventive. She imagines Rosie growing up into a strapping young woman who despises her golden hair, prefers leather breeches to ball gowns, and can communicate with animals. And on that fateful birthday, with no help from a prince, Rosie saves herself and her entire sleeping village from destruction, although she pays a realistic price. In a final master stroke, McKinley cleverly takes creative license when the spell-breaking kiss (made famous in "Sleeping Beauty") comes from a surprising source and is bestowed upon the character least expected.
Although the entire novel is well written, McKinley's characterization of Rosie's animal friends is exceptionally fine. Observations such as "...foxes generally wanted to talk about butterflies and grasses and weather for a long time while they sized you up," will spark reader's imaginations. It won't be hard to persuade readers of any age to become lost in this marvelous tale; the difficult part will be convincing them to come back from McKinley's country, where "the magic... was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk dust...." Highly recommended. (Ages 12 and older).
Source: Jennifer Hubert, Amazon.com.