The Sleeper and the Spindle is a mash-up of two popular fairy tales, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps we could think of it as a continuation of the Snow White story, after she wakes up and becomes the rightful queen. And a warping of the Sleeping Beauty story. In this retelling three women take center stage, with a few dwarfs for good measure. There are no princes or handsome men in sight. Neil Gaiman said in a interview with Gaby Wood of the Telegraph, "I don't have a lot of patience for stories in which women are rescued by men." So in his mash-up of the old favorites the queen kisses the princess awake, essentially saving everyone. In the end it is a little confusing who is who and who is good and who is bad but aside from that small need to reread a few pages the whole book is a complete delight.
Gaiman said about his creation, "I feel like some kind of alchemist. I have to go to the cupboard and take one ounce of Snow White and two ounces of Sleeping Beauty, and heat the Sleeping Beauty and froth the Snow White and mix them together: it's kind of like fusion cuisine. It tastes like both of them but it's actually a new dish" (Gaby Wood, Telegraph, Nov. 20, 2014).
The mixture is a wonderful and unique combination everyone should try. But, for me, the real star of the book are the illustrations. Chris Riddell's elaborate pen and ink illustrations are simply stunning. One could spend hours, even days, looking at them. The intricate details he included on each illustration on every page are quite amazing.
You have to take the time to view this YouTube video of Graiman and Riddell talking about the creation of the illustrations. It is only 3 minutes long and you will get a strong feeling for how lovely, lovely the book really is.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars