Title: Spindle Fire
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Format: Hardcover, 351 pages
Publishing Information: April 11th 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: ARC for Review
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
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.
Spindle Fire is the first book in a lush fantasy duology set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.
I’m a sucker for fantasy retellings so I was excited to pick up Spindle Fire, which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling (it’s actually been described as “Sleeping Beauty meets Alice in Wonderland“). I must admit that when I was younger, I found Sleeping Beauty to be the most boring of the Disney princesses because she was such a damsel in distress. Spindle Fire definitely does away with the more docile version of Aurora and tells a tale about two sisters who have to save their kingdom. Overall, I enjoyed this book but I did have a few problems regarding the structure and romance.
Spindle Fire follows the story of two sisters, Aurora and Isabelle, whose lives have been dramatically changed by faeries. Isabelle is the king’s illegitimate daughter and when she was young, a faerie took her sight. Aurora is the heir to the kingdom — she is graceful and beautiful but a faerie took her voice. One day, a curse comes to pass — Aurora pricks her finger and her and the rest of the kingdom fall into a deep sleep. She finds herself in a land that she thought was only a rumor. Meanwhile, Isabelle treks across the land to find a prince who can wake up her sister with a kiss. As she tries to retrieve this prince, she has to fight against the darkness that is sweeping across the land.
Spindle Fire is written in alternating viewpoints of Aurora and Isabelle (Isbe), with a few chapters written from the perspectives of fae. I really enjoyed Isbe’s chapters — she was the fiercest of the two sisters and really was willing to go through intense struggles to save her sister. Also, she could be incredibly witty at times. Aurora did take some time to grow on me because she comes off as super docile and meek at the start of the book. She does develop as a character though and emerges much stronger by the end.
One thing that I found strange about the book were the viewpoints written by the fae. They were interesting in that we got a bit of the back story about the evil the was taking over the land but they also interrupted the flow of the book. I think that the fae chapters would have better worked as a novella — it would have been great to get a deeper story about the fae because I would have loved to learn more about their history.
I found the most predictable (and my least favorite) part of this book to be the romance. I really liked it when the book was more about the relationship between Isbe and Aurora because sister bonds are always wonderful to read about. I wasn’t too ecstatic about the romance for a couple of reasons: 1) it took away from the sister relationship focus (I really wanted an Elsa + Anna type of thing); 2) in Aurora’s case, it felt a bit forced; 3) the romance was quite predictable.
Spindle Fire had a few shortcomings but I still enjoyed the book and will likely be picking up the sequel to see how things continue, especially since the ending in Spindle Fire was quite abrupt. If you tend to find the story of Sleeping Beauty uninteresting, I think you will appreciate how much more compelling and complex it becomes in Spindle Fire.