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Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

Spindle's End (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Robin McKinley

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2,862622,023 (3.89)168
Title:Spindle's End
Authors:Robin McKinley
Info:Ace (2002), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy sf, fairy tales, sleeping beauty, rose red

Work details

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley (2000)

  1. 10
    Entwined by Heather Dixon (SunnySD)
  2. 12
    Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Both works are adaptations of Sleeping Beauty.

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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
On and on and on with the description of the piddling details of the rules of magic (but, ironically, I still have questions about them). Not much actual plot until the last, erm, 1/4 (less?) of the book. And the characters were more trope, more iconographic, than real. But at least spiders are good, not creepy, so maybe I should give it an extra star for that bit of scientific accuracy and originality? Nah. We're going with 2.5 stars and done. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Description: All the creatures of the forest knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name day. But the curse was cast: Sometime in the future Rosie would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep from which no one could rouse her.

Katriona, the young fairy who whisked Rosie away as an infant, and her aunt raise the princess as if she's their own in order to protect her. No other human, not even Rosie herself, knows her true identity. But Pernicia is looking for Rosie, and her powers are strong. She is so intent on revenge that even the fairies and animals who love Rosie may not be able to save her.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed how McKinley turned "The Sleeping Beauty" on it's ear. And I liked most of the characters, although several could have used more fleshing out. Ultimately, however, this story was way to muddled for my tastes. The pacing was strange: nothing really happened at all for long stretches and then there would be a flurry of action which quickly subsided back into nothing. And the shift in narrative focus, from Katriona to Rosie very abruptly, was off-putting.

But I think it was mostly the sense that the story wasn't completely thought out that made this so underwhelming for me. It felt like McKinley knew the highlights she wanted to hit but had trouble navigating from point to point and therefore ended up with a lot of pointless meandering and, towards the end, some writing that came accross as bad stream of consciousness that was trying to pass as deep, important philosophical thought.

One of the worst passages: "Rosie couldn't decide if it was more as if an invisible door opened and let them out, or whether they merely formed themselves out of nothing. Whatever they were, they made you sick to look at them; not sick because of their horribleness, but sick like a person who doesn't like heights looking down a very long way. Looking at them made you dizzy and gave you a headache, and you suddenly felt you no longer knew which way was up and which down, and you wanted something to hold on to, except there wasn't anything to hold on to, except each other, and that wasn't any good because all the rest felt exactly the same."

That is the clearest description given of some phantom thingies that pop up and are then vanquished by... the cat. One second they aren't there, then they are, and then they are gone again. What?

This was the first book by McKinley that I've read. It was a SantaThing gift. I have had some of McKinley's other books on my TBR list but I'm not so sure I'm going to rush out to acquire them after this one.

http://www.librarything.com/topic/130721#3194632 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 12, 2015 |
I'd read this before but forgotten it. It was mostly good, but I burned out by the end. I really do love McKinley's fairy tales -- whether they're re-tellings or one's she's created on her own. I need to go back and read Sunshine again. ( )
  Ferocity | Dec 29, 2014 |
Spindle’s End is a lusciously described retelling of Sleeping Beauty by Robin McKinley, an author who has always made a point of writing Girls Who Do Things. Obviously, in her version of Sleeping Beauty, the princess is going to do more than sleep the entire story.

And she does. There’s very little of the “sleeping” in her, or “beauty” or “princess” either, really. In an effort to protect her from the evil fairy who cursed her to die when she touched a spindle, Rosie’s been raised to believe that she’s just an ordinary peasant girl. Of course, Rosie’s being raised by two fairies, so “ordinary” might not be the right word.

While Rosie may have been blessed with many typical princess attributes, such as long golden curls, perfect dance steps and the like, she finds ways to ignore or foil them. Rosie’s more interested in her animal friends (the gift to speak to animals being the most useful she received) and running around in the woods. But as her fateful birthday grows nearer, Rosie begins to realize that her life is tied up with that of the kingdom’s.

This book is very much character driven and largely focuses on Rosie growing up. While I did enjoy Rosie and some of the other characters, it didn’t feel like much happened. There wasn’t even a whole lot of dialog or conflict between characters.

The writing is also rambling in places, as it is with a number of McKinley’s first person narrated books. However, I feel that the writing style didn’t work as well for Spindle’s End – instead of being the voice and mind of a narrator, it just felt sporadic and info dumpy in places. Also, the POV shifted constantly throughout the book and wasn’t divided in any clear fashion.

I probably wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’re already a fan of fairy tale retellings or Robin McKinley – or if you want to see a more active princess at the heart of the story. For everyone else, I’d suggest picking up one of McKinley’s other books first. The Hero and the Crown isn’t a direct retelling but does have a feel of a fairy tale, and the writing is much smoother. ( )
  pwaites | Aug 1, 2014 |
Robin McKinley's best works, especially those drawn from traditional folklore, are so cozy, like a cup of tea on a rainy day. That is what I like best about Spindle's End, her take on "Sleeping Beauty": the simple warm feeling of it, rather than any particular characterization or twist of the plot. It's hard to completely dislike a novel that opens by declaring that "The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust." It's equally as difficult not to fall in love with the Gig, the especially magical corner of the kingdom where most of the story is set.

It's just a shame that McKinley wasn't able to create a more enthralling story to take place in this world. When I was a preteen, it took me two tries to get through Spindle's End, and though I found it to be smoother sailing as an adult, I still cannot say I love it. Part One is quite good, with provincial fairy Katriona attending the new baby princess's name day only to be saddled with the task of spiriting the child away after she is cursed in her cradle by the evil Pernicia. Katriona is to my mind the most vivid character in the book, and it's a shame she fades into the background after her flight back to the Gig. The rest of the book sort of plods along—it's about fifty pages too long, I'd say—and even the climax is more vague than it is exciting.

A good comfort read that I'll keep on my shelves and perhaps reach for again in another ten or fifteen years, but certainly not up to the standards of Beauty or the Damar books. ( )
1 vote ncgraham | Mar 25, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Lodge, my Woodwold and to the other Dickinsons who love it too.
First words
The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust.
Small spider weave on a silver sleeve,
Oh, weave your grey web nearer.
From a golden crown let your silk hang down,
For lost, lost, lost is the wearer.
Magic can't do everything.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The princess has been missing since she was a baby. And Rosie, an ordinary girl, is growing up in an unremarkable little village far away from the royal city.

Unremarkable, that is, in a land where magic is so common that it settles over everything like dust. But a fairy curse is the kind of magic that nobody wants, beacuse it always comes true. And Rosie cannot stay ordinary for ever...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441008658, Mass Market Paperback)

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) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:22 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

The infant princess Briar Rose is cursed on her name day by Pernicia, an evil fairy, and then whisked away by a young fairy to be raised in a remote part of a magical country, unaware of her real identity and hidden from Pernicia's vengeful powers.

(summary from another edition)

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