Publication Date: October 23, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
A 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.
I will be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into when I picked up this book. Except that I always expect greatness from Neil Gaiman. And when he collaborates with Chris Riddell, I expect to be blown away.
The Sleeper and the Spindle is a mash up of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty…almost. It wouldn’t be appropriate to call it a retelling, Gaiman simply pulls themes and characters from the two stories and creates his own new fairy tale.
There is definitely a feminist slant to the story, Snow White dons chainmail while her prince sulks about a delayed wedding. The story is well done, and unlike anything I’ve seen before.
And the illustrations? The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, black and white line art enhanced with metallic ink. The book won the CILIP Kate Greenaway award (a UK award for excellence in illustration).
So, the question is, did it blow me away? Yes. Well almost. Sort of. It’s complicated. As I said I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up the book, and while I loved the story and especially the artwork, I had a slight dissatisfied feeling when I finished. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I turned to google. As it turns out, The Sleeper and the Spindle was previously published in a short story anthology. That explained a lot to me. It is not a picture book, or even a graphic novel. If you’ve spent anytime reading short stories, you know that you just get a snapshot, a glimpse. You are often given an incomplete backstory and are left with questions and loose ends. If the author does a good job, you are left wanting more. You’ll want more after reading The Sleeper and the Spindle. I think if I had known before hand that I was reading a beautifully illustrated short story, it would have made all the difference.