I think this may be the first obvious re-telling novel that I’ve actually reviewed on my webiste. I know that I read and reviewed Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, but that didn’t read like a re-telling at all, whereas Spindle Fire did. The connections between this novel and the original fairy tale were obvious. However, there were still big twists and turns in this novel that I really liked.
It all started with a curse…
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
When I first started reading Spindle Fire, I was a bit weary because I’m normally not a fan of re-tellings. They have to have big plot twists in order for me to really like them. Spindle Fire is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty and does have the occasional twist and turns that make it slighter darker than the Disney animation and Hillyer has changed a few things up in her novel.
First of all, Aurora actually has a half-sister called Isabelle (Isbe) who is the bastard daughter of the King and I absolutely loved the character of Isbe. She was strong-willed, brave, caring, devoted and free-spirited. She had accepted that she was a bastard child and would always be the lesser out of her and Aurora, but that doesn’t stop Isbe from loving her half-sister dearly and doing anything for her. The relationship between Isbe and Aurora was amazing and I was so glad to see a positive, healthy portrayal of sisterly relationships. Aurora and Isbe didn’t care that they were only half-sisters because they felt like each others soul mate.
What I also liked about this book was that we got to see what happened to Aurora when she went into her deep sleep which was interesting. However this leads me onto the next point… The romance.
“One night reviled, Before break of morn, Amid the roses wild, All tangled in thorns, The shadow and the child Together were born.”
― Lexa Hillyer,
The romance actually wasn’t that great between Aurora and her love-interest. I thought it was bland, there was no foundation for the love-interest to happen other than her love-interest was the guy that saves her *rolls my eyes* BUT, I did like Isbe’s love interest. It was just so adorable and unexpected. However, this book is set in 1313 and something to do with the love interests within the book (I’m not going to say what), doesn’t match up with the time period. The *thing* that happened, wouldn’t actually happen, it wouldn’t be allowed and would be frowned upon by pretty much everybody.
Whilst we’re on the topic of the time period, this is something else that slightly let it down for me. There were times where you could tell that the novel was set in 1313 and this was shown by the way certain characters would speak or certain actions that would be undertaken. However, this wasn’t consistent throughout the whole novel. At times, it almost seemed like I was reading a modern re-telling and not a re-telling that was set in the 14th century.
It is the romance, he inconsistency of the time period, and the sometimes-basic-writing that made this book 3.5 stars. However, there is a sequel coming out in April next year and I am thoroughly looking forward to reading it, as the ending of Spindle Fire just left me with my mouth agape.
Overall, this is an enjoyable book with a fair few nods to the Disney animation but also has its own twists on the much-loved classic. The sisterly relationship is probably one of the best things about the book and the character of Isbe was definitely a highlight for me and it’s for these reasons that I recommend that anyone who loves a good fairy tale to read this book!