Review: Spindle

Posted: September 22, 2015 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: W.R. Gingell, Fantasy, Young Adult

Polyhemia is asleep and has been for three hundred years, until Luck wakes her up with a kiss. Only, he’s no prince, and it certainly wasn’t the kiss of True Love. Which would explain why she keeps falling asleep, why her memories are fuzzy, and why her dreams are so odd–the curse was only sorta broken. Luck, you see, is an enchanter, and uses his kiss/magic to wake up Poly and deliver her to the Council because they think she’s the princess.

Only she isn’t.

Poly turns out to be something of a puzzle to Luck, who insists her magic keeps messing up his traveling spells. Poly says she doesn’t have magic, but Luck doesn’t believe her. However, she begins to see the threads of magic around her and wonders if maybe her three-hundred-year-old memories are faulty.

A re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, SPINDLE (Amazon) takes the story and turns it upside-down. What if the girl wasn’t the princess and the hero definitely not a charming prince?

Polyhemia is asleep as SPINDLE opens and has been for three hundred years. Then Luck wakes her up with a kiss, but he's nothing like he should be.

Poly was okay as the PoV character, but it took a while for me to like her because she could be a little shrill and obstinate. Luck was amusing in his distracted, scholarly way, unaware of the humanness of those around him, his magical abilities making him more than human. Somehow their talents work together for their mutual benefit… assuming they can get past all the head-butting in the process. Their snappy dialogue was entertaining, at least. The secondary characters all sounded the same to me, with the same witty dialogue and personalities as each other (doesn’t help that half of their names started with the letter M).

Poly and Luck must work together to figure out the curse in order to completely lift it. As a result we learn about the magic (magic, anti-magic, unmagic) and those who use it (enchanters, wizards). Since it’s told from Poly’s PoV and she’s a magic novice, we learn along with her how the magic in her world works. Even then I found some of the explanations confusing: threads, how anti-magic breaks apart spells, how anti-magic becomes part of her, how her parents’ magic worked. Magic is a big part of the plot so these explanations are important for understanding the curse, how Luck is able to do what he does, and how Poly manipulates the world around her. It’s the answers to these and other questions that drive the story.

Despite the entertaining characters, the fun magic, and the unfolding of the story, there was a big problem with flow. There were gaps in movement where I had a hard time following what characters were doing; explanations of the magic often felt incomplete with leaps in logic; the plot meandered in places while characters moved around without understanding why; character backgrounds fell short, making them lack dimension. The story started out promising, but the whimsy got in the way–like the author tried too hard to carry the fairytale style throughout when the re-telling was taking it in a different direction. These are the kinds of things a competent editor with an eye for content would have marked and forced the author to fix. And then the story would have been so much more coherent.

In the end it’s the mystery that carried the story, so I read it fairly quick, not like it was a chore to read; it’s easy to see the cleverness underneath all the problems. I think Gingell is worth watching once she can get a handle on her storytelling. It’s cheap on Kindle ($2.99) and is a safe book for your tween/teen daughters–and they’ll probably like it, too.

  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Language: None
  • Violence: Some peril
  • Sex: Nothing other than kisses

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