Tuesday 14 October 2014

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell

It was the closest kingdom to the queen’s as the crow files, but not even the crows flew it. The high mountain range that served as the border between the two kingdoms discouraged crows as much as it discouraged people, and it was considered unpassable.
Pages – 68
Published by Bloomsbury in October 2014
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.
I adored this book! There was so much to love in it that I found myself reading it over and over again, capturing snippets I’d missed before and revelling in new finds. It’s one of those books you want to share with your friends, but they are not allowed to touch it, because you are never going to part with your copy and it has to be kept pristine.
This story originally appeared in Rags and Bones: New Twists in Timeless Tales, which was published in 2013. It is only right that this story now appears in a book of its own, as it is a timeless tale that will appeal to all ages. The story carefully weaves two very famous fairy tales (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) together, but their are added strands of darkness and modern thought stitched in.
The characters are unnamed but easily recognisable by their attitudes and actions. The princess is uneasy about her imminent  wedding and is only too eager to go off and find the sleeping princess. Her actions alone, show how strong, capable and clever she is, as she manages to do what no man has ever done – reach the sleeping beauty.  However there is a twist to what happens  next and I refuse to spoil the story for you. So you will have to go and read it yourself.
What I can tell you, is this story carries a moral, one that ticks over in your brain, long after you finish reading the book. The moral is that life is for living, not doing what others insist you do. Before time creeps up on you and steals your youth, take your life in your hands and live it to the fullest. Run with it. Go off and travel the world, fall in love over and over again, live the dreams you only experience when you are asleep. Simple enough!
I can’t talk about this book without discussing the stunning illustrations by Chris Riddell. The black and white pictures with hints of gold, really bring the story to life, giving you the feeling that you hold something very precious in your hands when you read this book.
A truly stunning book that feels magical in your hands.

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