Spindle Fire was one of those books that drew me in right off the bat with its enchanted cover and a story that promises a new retelling of Sleeping Beauty – one of my all time favorite fairy tales.
Look at that beautiful cover, the deep blue and complimenting icy blue colors, with the castle in the background – isn’t it beautiful? It has such as simplistic yet complex look going on that really adds something special to it, and it fits perfectly with the great, original story that lies within the book’s pages.
I’m such a sucker for retellings, especially those that will allow me to revisit favorite fairy tales and brings them to life in an all new light. Spindle Fire is a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but it is also so much more than that – it is its very own novel, a unique and original story, and something that absolutely no fairy tale lover should miss.
Spindle Fire is told from two main viewpoints – the princess and “star” of Sleeping Beauty – Aurora, as well as the half sister that we haven’t heard about before – Isabelle. Isabelle is slightly older than Aurora and the two of them are the best of friends – doing everything together and spending every second playing, talking, and being close to each other. Only Isabelle is blind, and while we figure out later in the book exactly why Isabelle is blind, it kind of makes it difficult for she and Aurora to talk to each other, because Aurora has no voice.
“Some people consider it a problem – or even a curse – to be forever trapped in darkness. But Isabelle no longer minds the dark.
Light too can be a curse.
It can illuminate things no one else should ever have to witness.”
Aurora has no voice, but she also has no sense of touch. She cannot feel the cold, the heat, or pain, nor does she know exactly what it feels like to be loved and feeling warm embraces from those around her. Just as the reasons behind Isabelle’s blindness are revealed late in the book, as is the reason that Aurora cannot speak or feel. Still, the two of them have discovered a way to communicate – they have a special language that allows Aurora to tap on Isabelle’s hand and draw symbols so that they can talk to each other.
When Isabelle is set to be sent away to a convent because the two of them get into trouble, Isabelle decides to take off with her longtime crush and best friend Gil, and the two of them leave to go help out with one of Gil’s relatives on a farm. When Aurora finds out that she has gone, she sets off to find and save Isabelle. However, she gets sidetracked into a small cabin in the woods, where she pricks her finger on a strange spindle, and falls asleep.
Unfortunately, this starts off a string of cases, which are being referred to as the sleeping sickness, and when Isabelle hears about this, she is determined to set out to the next kingdom over to find the surviving prince to bring him back to Aurora so that he can kiss her and wake her up, like the stories that Aurora loves to read so much. She travels on the sea and other ways (such as in a coffin) in order to get the prince back to Aurora, hopefully saving her and bringing about an alliance between both kingdoms.
Meanwhile, when Aurora wakes up, she discovers that she is in a strange dream world where she can talk and feel, and she starts an on-and-off relationship with Heath, where she gets her first taste of affection and finds herself longing for it, despite the fact that she needs to figure out what is going on so she can get back and save her kingdom.
“The ghost of Heaht’s fingers sighs along her jaw. Will it haunt her forever when she leaves this place? She has only just learned this form of closeness, and already she fears how much she craves it, craves more – how devastated she would be never to have it again.”
The characters in Spindle Fire bring the book to life – Aurora and Isabelle are some of the most interesting characters that I’ve come across in a fantasy novel, with the way that they handle themselves and the bravery they exhibit when dealing with the things that try to hold them back. For one, Aurora teaches herself to read and write, and Isabelle doesn’t allow her lack of sight to bother her – instead, she climbs up and down castle walls, takes care of Aurora, and even manages to set off to save her sister. Not once did either of them sit down and pity themselves the way that I’ve seen so many other protagonists do in fantasy novels, so I was really impressed. They were both strong willed and bad-assed and I loved them both!
The whole dream realm thing that Aurora finds herself in once she pricks her finger is really interesting – it kind of reminded me a bit of an Alice in Wonderland type thing, only it wasn’t as trippy or anything – it was just really well written and it brought about an entire new level to the story that worked so well.
I don’t read many novels that have to do with the fae, so this book was a real treat. They play a huge part in the novel, and there are even random chapters scattered here and there that focus on them, which is interesting. I loved watching the story come together this way.
While Spindle Fire is told in the third person point of view, the chapters alternate between Aurora and Isabelle’s view, which adds a nice touch to the novel. It gives us a chance as readers to get to know both of them, and see what kinds of trials they are currently facing.
There’s a bit of politics in here, too, so it seems to me as though Lexa Hillyer really added the perfect amount of different elements to Spindle Fire that will allow readers with a variety of different tastes to really enjoy reading this. While I’m not always a big fan of politics in my books, they blended in nicely here and only enriched the novel and made in more enjoyable.
The world building in Spindle Fire was breathtaking – probably among some of the best that I’ve come across yet. I loved the detail that went into describing pretty much everything in this book. It made it so easy to really get a grasp on what was going on while reading.
While I’m not usually a fan of love triangles (and there’s kind of one in here with Isabelle), I don’t think it really took away from the novel or anything. I was hoping that things would have been a bit more…clear…at the end of the book, but that’s okay, because book two is coming out next year and I’m so excited for it. I NEED to read that one, because I loved this so much.
Spindle Fire is one heck of an awesome Sleeping Beauty retelling – a retelling that you have never seen the likes of before.