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  • Writer's pictureKori

A Spindle Splintered Book Review

It's time for another review! A Spindle Splintered is a queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty and the first novella in Alix E. Harrow's Fractured Fables series. But for such a small book, it has a lot to offer.


A Spindle Splintered Book Review Coffee, Book, and Candle

Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling


Category: Cozy Read

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Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Plot: 5/5 stars

Characters: 5/5 stars

World: 4/5




PLOT


Before I get into the plot, I want to take a moment to acknowledge how pretty this book is. The cover and use of Arthur Rackham's woodcut illustrations are gorgeous! They're cute yet grim, perfectly emphasizing the story, which—much like the original Sleeping Beauty tale—has a dark aspect.


Zinnia is a "dying girl"—she has Generalized Roseville Malady, a rare genetic condition caused by a local industrial tragedy. No one with the disease has lived past the age of twenty-one. So it's no surprise that she is not looking forward to her twenty-first birthday.


Her best friend, Charm, is more of an optimist and goes all out for Zinnia's birthday. Zinnia's been obsessed with Sleeping Beauty since she was a kid, so Charm throws her a party in a tower that's decked out in roses and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia jokingly pricks her finger, she finds herself falling through worlds. She lands in the realm of Princess Primrose, who is reluctant to celebrate her own twenty-first birthday due to a familiar curse.


Zinnia is surprised to find herself in a "knock-off fairy tale" where things are not quite as they seem. Yet the most surprising thing is that while she works to help Primrose not lose hope, she finds some of her own. Together, the girls embark on a quest to find the fairy who cursed Primrose and, hopefully, break both of their curses. Before she knows it, Zinnia is battling alongside Primrose and a few other kickass women, filling her with passion and purpose.


A Spindle Splintered is short, but it still packs a punch. The plot is fast-paced, never boring, and manages to have a few twists. It's jam-packed with humor and feminist themes, making it a fun, cute, and empowering story.



CHARACTERS


Zinnia is kind of a badass. She has come to terms with her tragically short lifespan and is determined to not waste any time. She graduates high school and college early, earning a degree in folklore. She loves fairytales, especially Sleeping Beauty, but she hates how often the damsels in distress sit around rather than save themselves. So when she meets Primrose, she is not about to let her sit around and mope; she's helping this Princess take action and take back her life—and, with a little luck, her own.


Zinnia tries not to get her hopes too high, which is understandable. Her curse wasn't caused by an evil fairy or magic, and no amount of medicine or research has been able to cure her. That said, she's not going to lay down and give up. If nothing else, she will make her last year count by helping another dying girl.


Zinnia's love for fairytales and folklore makes her relatable. Her bravery and willingness to sacrifice herself makes her an admirable hero. Her humor can be a bit dark, but it's cool that she is able to maintain a sense of levity. All in all, she's a pretty cool protagonist.


Charm is an incredible loyal friend who has enough hope for both of them, and does all that she can to make Zinnia's life a good one. She's rebellious, has a great sense of humor, and brings some fun to the story.


Primrose is a princess worth looking up to. She's scared, but she's got more spine than you'd think—which surprises and delights Zinnia (and probably readers). They make a pretty good team, and I wouldn't be upset if she made an appearance in future installments.



WORLD


There's not much to say here. Zinnia lives in our world—or a version of it. She's lived her life in modern Ohio. Primrose's world is a bit different—exactly what you would expect of a medieval fairytale. I loved the multiverse aspect and the way different worlds were blended together. But how the heck could technology from other worlds still work in Primrose's reality?!




TL;DR


A Spindle Splintered can easily be devoured in one sitting, and not just because it's only 128 pages. This retelling is fun, humorous, empowering, full of dark fairytale vibes, and features kickass women you can't help but like. Harrow packed as much action, excitement, character development, and magic as she could into this small tome.


If you like retellings, particularly those with queer/sapphic characters and feminist themes, then you might like this book as much as I did. I will definitely be following the series; I already have the next installment, A Mirror Mended, sitting on my TBR shelf. Expect a review for that one sooner rather than later.



Thanks for tuning into another Coffee, Book, and Candle review! If you liked this review or this book, let me know! Leave a comment below, or chat me up on our bookstagram or Twitter. I'll never turn down a chance to fangirl.

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