Monday, November 8, 2021

A Spindle Splintered - Alix E. Harrow

Summary: It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate. (Summary and pic from

My Review: This was another one of those organic book findings that I love. I was walking through the library and it was on a display. I grabbed it and voila! It was like the good ol’ days.

This is a small book that packs a punch. The cover art is beautiful and eye-catching, and there are also drawings inside that are fun, whimsical, but also disturbing. It’s a great combination. Whenever a book is this small, I worry that it won’t be able to cover what it needs to. This is an adult book, too, so I worried that the story wouldn’t be developed enough to make a novel. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Harrow is obviously not a novice author (she wrote such heavy hitters such as The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches) and she was able to create a succinct story that developed the characters, told the story, and left us satisfied. I was quite impressed, actually. That’s a lot to do in 119 pages, many of them heavily illustrated. According to Goodreads, this is only #1 in what is hopefully a series, or at least a duology, called “Fractured Fables.” Don’t you love Goodreads for having that kind of info? It’s awesome.

The story itself is one that tackles a lot of issues—serious illness and mortality, homosexuality and cultural acceptance, princess/fairytale culture and how that has influenced how people view women and their role in society, etc. I was surprised how much Harrow was able to tackle and create a coherent discussion of it.

I LOVED the stories of “Sleeping Beauty” and how many iterations were wrapped up in a “Spider-verse”-type story. I thought it was a great take on the idea. I’ve been loving these refreshing takes and retellings on fairy tales, and this one is an especially awesome feminist version that I thought was really empowering and awesome. I liked the characters, too. They felt real and fresh. The fierce friendships were lovely and the discussions of grief raw and insightful.

If you’re into the modern retellings of fairytales, of which there are many, or you’re into some great female characters, I think you would really enjoy this book. I liked it a lot, and found it a refreshing, fun, quick read. I can’t wait to read more in the series!

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and homosexuality.

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