The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle

4.3 3
by Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell

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New York Times bestselling and Newbery and Carnegie Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman and Kate Greenaway-winning illustrator Chris Riddell have created a thrillingly reimagined fairy tale, "told in a way only Gaiman can" and featuring "stunning metallic artwork" (

The result is a beautiful and coveted edition of The Sleeper and the


New York Times bestselling and Newbery and Carnegie Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman and Kate Greenaway-winning illustrator Chris Riddell have created a thrillingly reimagined fairy tale, "told in a way only Gaiman can" and featuring "stunning metallic artwork" (

The result is a beautiful and coveted edition of The Sleeper and the Spindle that the Guardian calls "a refreshing, much-needed twist on a classic story."

In this captivating and darkly funny tale, Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell have twisted together the familiar and the new as well as the beautiful and the wicked to tell a brilliant version of Snow White's (sort of) and Sleeping Beauty's (almost) stories.

This story was originally published (without illustrations) in Rags & Bones (Little, Brown, 2013). This is the first time it is being published as an illustrated, stand-alone edition, and the book is a beautiful work of art.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Soman Chainani
The iconography is familiar—sidekick dwarves, thorn-covered castle, a bitter old witch—but Gaiman's mash-up is unabashedly feminist. The prince sulks over the delayed wedding, while Snow White dons chain mail and rides out to save the day. The gnarled, ugly witch is certainly more than she seems. And the princely kiss that wakes a sleeping beauty doesn't involve a prince at all. Plenty of authors have tried such tactics, only to succumb to another hazard of retelling—the niggling feeling that when all is said and done, what we're reading is souped-up fan fiction. But Gaiman knows fairy tales in his bones, and his work is so sonically tuned that it breathes on its own from the first line…What's most remarkable about The Sleeper and the Spindle, besides its string of expert twists, is how it feels told rather than written…Adding to the wonder are Chris Riddell's dazzling illustrations, black-and-white with flashes of gold, so detailed in their dark imagination that, at times, Gaiman's story seems less a fairy tale and more a bad, beautiful dream.
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/08/2015
Always a superb spinner of tales, Gaiman presents a filigreed elaboration of Sleeping Beauty that, before long, reveals itself as something more. Three dwarves discover a realm in which everyone has fallen asleep, and they cross into the next country to warn its queen of the great plague that threatens her people. Alert readers won’t miss the hint to the queen’s identity: “Would I sleep, as they did?” she asks one of the dwarfs, who replies, “You slept for a year.... And then you woke again, none the worse for it.” Traveling to the cursed kingdom, the queen and dwarves encounter threatening zombie sleepers and more, but the storyline is still recognizable underneath the new details. It isn’t until the travelers penetrate the castle that things tilt sideways. Something new is going on, and readers will be carried to the end by the whirlwind force of Gaiman’s imagination. Riddell draws in pen and ink, eschewing color—save for select gold accents—and pouring his energy into myriad, spidery lines and delicate cross-hatching that recall Aubrey Beardsley’s eerie set pieces. It’s a genuine treat. Ages 13–up. (Sept.)
Gaby Wood
“Spellbindingly illustrated.”
The Big Issue
“Magical, sumptuous, transporting.”
Amanda Craig
“Unforgettable, unpredictable and utterly enchanting for anyone between the ages of seven and seventy.”
“Gaiman and Riddell’s greatest [collaboration] to date.”
“Told in a way only Gaiman can” and featuring “stunning metallic artwork.”
The Guardian
“A refreshing, much-needed twist on a classic story.”
New York Times Book Review
“Unabashedly feminist...So sonically tuned that it breathes on its own from the very first line. Adding to the wonder are Chris Riddell’s dazzling illustrations.”
Wall Street Journal
“A striking volume...thrums with malevolence and confounds our expectations...[the pictures] seem to writhe creepily on the page.”
VOYA, October 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 4) - Kristin Fletcher-Spear
This illustrated novella was originally published in the anthology Rag & Bones: New Twists On Timeless Tales (Little, Brown, 2013/Voya December 2013). Gaiman’s tale of Sleeping Beauty is definitely a twist on the traditional story. The dwarves discover that the kingdom next to their queen’s is being taken over by a sleeping illness. Fearing that her kingdom is next, the queen travels to stop the illness. Since she herself has already been cured of one sleeping illness, she can stay awake through her journey. Gaiman’s tale is a wholly original reimagining of the traditional tale, replacing it with a strong female heroine, an old crone, and a deceptive sleeping beauty. Like his previous fairy tale adaptation, Hansel And Gretel (Toon Books, 2014), this one can cross over age ranges and interests. While the subtlety may get lost by younger readers, they will still grasp the fairy tale concept and fantasy elements. Older readers will pick up on the sophisticated writing and twists. Riddell’s artwork is the reason a library should own this title in their collection. His details are exquisite. Each image has gold filigree details. Reviewer: Kristin Fletcher-Spear; Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-06-29
Is it fair to expect a masterpiece when Gaiman and Riddell work together? Probably. The two men have collaborated on a number of books published in the U.K., to great success. The illustrations in Fortunately, the Milk are a marvel of draftsmanship, and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are considered classics. Other artists illustrated the books in the U.S., quite beautifully, but the British editions are objects of envy for many fans. This new collaboration is a spectacular art object. Almost every page is decorated with gold leaf. Even the page numbers have gold filigree. The story combines two fairy tales, and it contains two startling ideas. Snow White, after years in a sleeping spell, might not be affected by the enchantment placed on Sleeping Beauty. And, more important, after her adventures in the woods, Snow White might find sitting on a throne as dull as lying in a glass coffin. The villainess, unfortunately, distracts from those ideas. She's just another sorceress in a fantasy book, one in a long line of evildoers who want youth and power—but this is a fairy tale, after all. The gorgeous, art nouveau-inspired black-and-white drawings, many of which seem to consciously echo such divergent talents as Arthur Rackham and Robert Lawson, however, are magnificent, and a few sentences describing sleepwalkers who speak in unison may haunt readers for years. If this book isn't quite a masterpiece, it's certainly a treasure, and that's more than enough. (Fairy tale. 11-18)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.

Chris Riddell is an acclaimed British artist who lives in Brighton, England. He has written and illustrated many books of his own, including Ottoline and the Yellow Cat and Ottoline Goes to School, and has illustrated, for Bloomsbury UK, The Graveyard Book; Coraline; and Fortunately, the Milk; as well as The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Brief Biography

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:
Portchester, England
Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77

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The Sleeper and the Spindle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TsukinoMermaid 5 months ago
I kind of thought that the book was going to be thicker and like an actual book, but nonetheless, the book was amazing. The illustrations were beautiful, especially the 2 page ones. Loved the story line, and the ending.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
What wonderful illustrations! Before I read this book, I thumbed through its pages just admiring the images. The illustrator’s work was incredible with his use of multiple lines and wonderful details on every page. The faces of the characters and the webbing that coated the sleepers as they sleep really caught my attention. For it’s off to Dorimar for the three dwarfs to buy the finest silk for the Queen. Within the week, the Queen will be wed. On their journey, the three stop at an inn where the innkeeper warns them that they need to turnaround and leave quickly. Shopping is not in their future. Sleep has come to the countryside and it will soon be upon the Inn, they must leave now. It was caused by a witch, a bad fairy, an enchantress; everyone has their own version on what to call this enchanted being that initiated this havoc. She was angry when she cast her spell, firing down her curse which individuals have tried to break unsuccessfully. Returning, the Queen listens as the dwarfs explain the enchanted sleep to her. Immediately putting her things in order so she may leave, she follows the dwarfs back to the Inn where they discover everyone is sleeping. Their journey is just beginning for them as they try to find where this curse originated and if they can put a stop to it. A great fairytale that I really enjoyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago