Book Review: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell

The Sleeper and the spindle #GaimanA thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

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.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

This is a variation on a Fairy Tale theme, where a Queen (not a prince) finds her wedding day threatened by a sleeping sickness that is spreading across the country from over the mountains.

There are tales to be told of a princess, asleep for 100 years under the spell of a wicked woman (no one can agree if she’s a witch, wicked woman or enchantress) and where the whole land drops asleep where they stand or sit.

The Queen, like the dwarves who come to visit, is immune to the sleeping spell, having been woken after a year’s enchanted sleep (snow white anyone?). She goes off to wake thisprincess, to prevent the sleeping spoiling the Queen’s wedding. Not everything ends up as expected though and things are not as they seem.

It’s certainly worth getting this book in the hardback, as the whole package is just fabulous. The drawings are primarily in black and white line drawings, with the occasional use of gold ink.

The story has the usual Neil Gaiman elements of a deviation from the norm whilst still working.

Some have read this as a LGBT tract, where the Queen kisses the princess on the lips to wake her up, only for those readers to be disappointed with the marked lack of passion and engagement. I see it more of a point of feminism – the Queen takes charge, organises those around her, rides off in full armour to “rescue” another in distress, and then makes her own decisions as to what she wants to do next.

Some additional reviews you might want to check out

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman, Dave Mckean

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s