Spindle's End

Spindle's End

by Robin Mckinley


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The evil fairy Pernicia has set a curse on Princess Briar-Rose: she is fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an endless, poisoned sleep. Katriona, a young fairy, kidnaps the princess in order to save her; she and her aunt raise the child in their small village, where no one knows her true identity. But Pernicia is looking for her, intent on revenge for a defeat four hundred years old. Robin McKinley's masterful version of Sleeping Beauty is, like all of her work, a remarkable literary feat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698119505
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 05/28/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 645,572
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust. (Housecleaners in that country earned unusually good wages.) If you lived in that country, you had to de-scale your kettle of its encrustation of magic at least once a week, because if you didn’t, you might find yourself pouring hissing snakes or pond slime into your teapot instead of water. (It didn’t have to be anything scary or unpleasant, like snakes or slime, especially in a cheerful household—magic tended to reflect the atmosphere of the place in which it found itself—but if you want a cup of tea, a cup of lavender-and-gold pansies or ivory thimbles is unsatisfactory. And while the pansies—put dry in a vase—would probably last a day, looking like ordinary pansies, before they went greyish-dun and collapsed into magic dust, something like an ivory thimble would begin to smudge and crumble as soon as you picked it up.)

The best way to do it was to have a fairy as a member of your household, because she (it was usually a she) could lay a finger on the kettle just as it came to a boil (absentminded fairies could often be recognised by a pad of scar-tissue on the finger they favoured for kettle-cleaning) and murmur a few counter-magical words. There would be a tiny inaudible thock, like a seed-pod bursting, and the water would stay water for another week or (maybe) ten days.

De-magicking a kettle was much too little and fussy and frequent a job for any professional fairy to be willing to be hired to do it, so if you weren’t related to one you had to dig up a root of the dja vine, and dry it, and grate it, producing a white powder rather like plaster dust or magic, and add a pinch of that to your kettle once a week. More often than that would give everyone in the household cramp. You could tell the households that didn’t have a fairy by the dja vines growing over them. Possibly because they were always having their roots disturbed, djas developed a reputation for being tricky to grow, and prone to sudden collapse; fortunately they rerooted easily from cuttings. “She’d give me her last dja root” was a common saying about a good friend.

People either loved that country and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, or hated it, left it as soon as they could, and never came back. If you loved it, you loved coming over the last hill before your village one day in early autumn and hearing the corn-field singing madrigals, and that day became a story you told your grandchildren, the way in other countries other grandparents told the story of the day they won the betting pool at the pub, or their applecake won first place at the local fete. If you lived there, you learned what you had to do, like putting a pinch of dried dja vine in your kettle once a week, like asking your loaf of bread to remain a loaf of bread before you struck it with a knife. (The people of this country had developed a reputation among outsiders for being unusually pious, because of the number of things they appeared to mutter a blessing over before they did them; but in most cases this was merely the asking of things it was safer to ask to remain nonmagical first, while work or play or food preparation or whatever was being got on with. Nobody had ever heard of a loaf of bread turning into a flock of starlings for anyone they knew, but the nursery tale was well known, and in that country it didn’t pay to take chances. The muttered words were usually only some phrase such as “Bread, stay bread” or, in upper-class households, “Bread, please oblige me,” which was a less wise form, since an especially impish gust of magic could choose to translate “oblige” just as it chose.)

Births were very closely attended, because the request that things stay what they were had to be got in quickly, birth being a very great magic, and, in that country, likely to be teased into mischief. It was so common an occurrence as to occasion no remark when a new-sown field began coming up quit obviously as something other than what was planted, and by a week later to have reverted to what the farmer had put in. But while, like the pansies and the thimbles, this kind of magic was only a temporary aberration, it could be very embarrassing and onerous while it lasted. Farmers in that country worried more about falling asleep during the birthing times of their stock than they worried about the weather; the destruction a litter of baby taralians caused remained, even after it had revered to piglets. No one knew how the wild birds and beasts negotiated this, but human parents-to-be would go to extreme lengths to ensure a fairy was on hand to say the birth-words over their new little one.

Generally speaking the more mobile and water-dependent something was, the more likely magic was to get at it. This meant animals—and, of course, humans—were the most vulnerable. Rocks were pretty reliably rocks, except of course when they were something else that had been turned into rocks. But rocks themselves sort of slept through magic attacks, and even if some especially wild and erratic bit of magic decided to deck out a drystone wall as a marble fountain, you could still feel the drystone wall if you closed your eyes and touched the fountain, and the water would not make you wet. The lichen that grew on the rock, however, could be turned into daisies quite convincing enough to make you sneeze if real daisies did so; and the insects and small creatures that crept over the lichen were more susceptible yet.

(There was an idea much beloved and written about by this country’s philosophers that magic had to do with negotiating the balance between earth and air and water; which is to say that things with legs or wings were out of balance with their earth element by walking around on feet or, worse, flying above the earth in the thin substance of air, obviously entirely unsuitable for the support of solid flesh. The momentum all this inappropriate motion set up in their liquid element unbalanced them further. Spirit, in this system, was equated with the fourth element, fire. All this was generally felt to be a load of rubbish among the people who had to work in the ordinary world for a living, unlike philosophers living in academies. But it was true that a favourite magical trick at fetes was for theatrically-minded fairies to throw bits of chaff or seed-pods or conkers in the air and turn them into things before they struck the ground, and that the trick worked better if the bits of chaff or seed-pods or conkers were wet.)

Slower creatures were less susceptible to the whims of wild magic than faster creatures, and creatures that flew were the most susceptible of all. Every sparrow had a delicious memory of having once been a hawk, and while magic didn’t take much interest in caterpillars, butterflies spent so much time being magicked that it was a rare event to see ordinary butterflies without at least an extra set of wings or a few extra frills and iridescences, or bodies like tiny human beings dressed in flower petals. (Fish, which flew through that most dangerous element, water, were believed not to exist. Fishy-looking beings in pools and streams were either hallucinations or other things under some kind of spell, and interfering with, catching, or—most especially—eating fish was strictly forbidden. All swimming was considered magical. Animals seen doing it were assumed to be favourites of a local water-sprite or dangerously insane; humans never tried.)

There did seem to be one positive effect to living involuntarily steeped in magic; everyone lived longer. More humans made their century than didn’t; birds and animals often lived to thirty, and fifty was not unheard of. The breeders of domestic animals in that country were unusually sober and responsible individuals, since any mistakes they made might be around to haunt them for a long time.

Although magic was ubiquitous and magic-workers crucially necessary, the attitude of the ordinary people toward magic and its manipulators was that it and they were more than a bit chancy and not to be relied on, however fond you were of your aunt or your next-door neighbour. No one had ever seen a fairy turn into an eagle and fly up above the trees, but there were nursery tales about that, too, and it was difficult not to believe that it or something even more unnerving was somehow likely. Didn’t farmers grow more stolid and earthy over a lifetime of farming? Wasn’t it likely that a lifetime of handling magic made you wilder and more capricious?

It was a fact much noticed but rarely discussed (and never in any fairy’s hearing) that while fairies rarely married or (married or not) had children, there never seemed to be any fewer fairies around, generation after generation. So presumably magic ran in the blood of the people the way it ran in all other watery liquids, and sometimes there was enough of it to make someone a fairy, and sometimes there was not. (One of the things ordinary people did not like to contemplate was how many people there might be who were, or could have been, fairies, and were masquerading as ordinary people by the simple process of never doing any magic when anyone was around to notice.) But there was a very strong tradition that the rulers of this country must be utterly without magic, for rulers must be reliable, they must be the earth and the rock underfoot for their people. And if any children of that country’s rulers had ever been born fairies, there was not only no official history of it; there were not even any stories about it.

This did mean that when the eldest child of each generation of the ruling family came to the age to be married (and, just to be safe, his or her next-younger and perhaps next-younger-after-that siblings) there was a great search and examination of possible candidates in terms of their magiclessness first, and their honesty, integrity, intelligence, and so on, second. (The likelihood of their getting along comfortably with their potential future spouses barely rated a mention on the councillors’ list.) So far—so far as the country’s histories extended, where was a little over a thousand years at the time of this story—the system had worked; and while there were stories of the thick net of anti-magic that the court magicians set up for even the cleanest, most magic-antipathetic betrothed to go through, well, it worked, didn’t it, and that was all that mattered.

The present king was not only an only child, but had had a very difficult time indeed—or his councillors had—finding a suitable wife. She was not even a princess, finally, but a mere countess, of some obscure little backwater country which, so far as it was known for anything, was known for the fleethounds its king and queen bred; but she was quiet, dutiful, and, so far as any of the cleverest magicians in the land could tell, entirely without magic. Everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief when the wedding was over; it had been a wait of nearly a decade since the king came of marriageable age.

But the years passed and she bore no children.

Certain of the king’s cousins began to hang around court more than they used to—his generation was particularly rich in cousins—and one or two of these quietly divorced spouses who were insufficiently nonmagical. There had not been a break in the line from parent to child in the ruling of this country for over five hundred years, and the rules about how the crown was passed sideways or diagonally were not clear. Neither the king nor the queen noticed any of this, for they so badly wanted a child, they could not bear to think about the results if they did not; but the councillors noticed, and the king’s cousins who divorced their spouses did themselves no good thereby.

Nearly fifteen years after the king’s marriage the queen was seen to become suddenly rather pale and sickly. Her husband’s people, who had become very fond of her, because she was always willing to appear at fairs and festivals and smile during boring speeches and to kiss the babies, even grubby and unattractive ones, which were thrust at her, were torn between hoping that whatever she had would kill her off while the king was young enough to remarry (and there was a whole new crop of princesses grown up to marriageable age outside the borders as well as a few within), and hoping that she would get well and come to more fairs and festivals and kiss more babies. The givers of boring speeches especially wished this; she was the best audience they had ever had.

The truth never occurred to anyone—not even when she began to wear loose gowns and to walk more heavily than she used to—because there had been no announcement.

The king knew, and her chief waiting-woman knew, and the fairy who disguised the queen’s belly knew. But the fairy had warned the king and queen that the disguise would go so far and no further: the baby must be allowed to grow unmolested by tight laces and the queen’s balance not be deranged by high-heeled shoes. “A magician might make you a proper disguise,” said the fairy, whose name was Sigil, “and let you dance all night in a sheath of silk no bigger around than your waist used to be; but I wouldn’t advise it. Magicians know everything about magic and nothing about babies. I don’t know nearly as much about magic as they do—but I know a lot about babies.”

Sigil had been with the king’s family since the king’s mother had been queen, and the king loved her dearly, and his queen had found in her her first friend when she came to her husband’s court, when she badly needed a friend. And so it was to Sigil the queen went, as soon as she knew for sure that she was pregnant, and begged for the disguise, saying that she had longed for a child for so many years she thought she could not bear the weight of the watchfulness of her husband’s people, who had longed for this child all these years, too, if her pregnancy were announced. The king, who had wanted to declare a public holiday, was disappointed; but Sigil sided with the queen.

The poor queen could not quite bring herself, after all the long childless years, to believe it when her friend told her that the baby was fine and healthy and would be born without trouble—“Well, my dear, without any more trouble than the birth of babies does cause, and which you, poor thing, will find quite troublesome enough.” And so the birth of an heir was not announced until the queen went into labour. The queen would have waited even then till the baby was born, but Sigil said no, that the baby must be born freely into the world, and freely, in an heir to a realm, meant with its people waiting to welcome it.

The country, that day, went into convulsions not unlike those the poor queen was suffering. An heir! An heir at last! And no one knew! The courtiers and councillors were offended, and the highest-ranking magicians furious, but their voices were drowned out in the tumult of jubilation from the people. The news travelled more quickly than any mere human messenger could take it, for the horses neighed it and the trees sang it and the kettles boiled it and the dust whispered it—an heir! The king’s child is born! We have an heir at last!

It was a girl, and the names chosen to be given her on her name-day were: Casta Albinia Allegra Dove Minerva Fidelia Aletta Blythe Domina Delicia Aurelia Grace Isabel Griselda Gwyneth Pearl Ruby Coral Lily Iris Briar-Rose. She was healthy—just as Sigil had said she would be—and she was born without any more trouble than the birth of babies does cause, which is to say the queen was aching and exhausted, but not too exhausted to weep for joy when the baby was laid in her arms.

The eldest child of the reigning monarch was always next in line for the throne, be it boy or girl; but it was usually a boy. There was a deeply entrenched folk myth that a queen held this country together better than a king because there is a clear-eyed pragmatic common sense about an unmagical woman that even the most powerful—or rather, especially the most powerful—magic found difficult to disturb; it was thought that a man was more easily dazzled by pyrotechnics. Whether this was true or not, everyone believed it, including the bad fairies, who therefore spent a lot of their time making up charms to ensure the birth of male first children to the royal family. The royal magicians dismantled these charms as quickly as they could, but never quite as quickly as the bad fairies made them up. (As it was difficult to get any kind of charm through the heavy guard laid round the royal family, these charms had to be highly specific, with the knock-on effect that third children to a reigning monarch were almost always girls.) But the folk myth (plus the tangential effect that first-born princesses were rare enough to be interesting for no reason other than their rarity) guaranteed that the birth of a future queen was greeted with even greater enthusiasm than the birth of a mere future king; and so it was in this case. No one seemed to remember, perhaps because their last queen had been nearly four hundred years ago, that the queen had left some unfinished business with a wicked fairy named Pernicia, who had sworn revenge.

Reprinted from Spindle's End by Robin McKinley by permission of Ace Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright 2001 by Robin McKinley. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“We think we know the end of the story, but still we’re drawn forward by the small variations and twists…Satisfying reading, pleasing in the depth of the weaving and elaboration.”—Chicago Tribune

“Rich prose and colorful description…keep readers spellbound.” —Rocky Mountain News

“Mythic grandeur…with magical detail and all-too-human feeling.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Evokes ancient bards and stories of long ago…The compelling climax reinforces the triumph of good over evil, and the transformative power of love.” —School Library Journal

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Spindle's End 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
gingbud More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with this book.  I read it because I was in the mood for a fairy tale escape.  I don't mind when author tries a new take on an old story.  But when I read a story based on a fairy tale, I would like it to retain some of the magic of the original tale.  This story was dry, bland, and retold in a way that was extremely disappointing.  Yes the princess has s curse placed on her by an angry fairy who was not invited to the party.  Yes, the princess is raised by fairies until her 21st birthday.  But the life she lived as described by the author, I found it to be dreary and uninspiring.  Yes there is magic, but this book was not magical.  I found myself flipping through pages just to get through it.  I'm one of those people who hate to not finish a book.  SPOILER ALERT: In the end, the sleeping "princess" isn't even the real princess and she is not awoken by the prince.  She is woken up by a kiss from the real princess.  I found it boring and could not recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun new spin on a fairy tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was okay, although a bit slow at some parts. It's definitely an interesting take on the fairytale- Sleeping Beauty. It was exciting reading about Rosie's journey as she matured over the 21 years. However, the ending was a huge letdown; I wanted a fairytale ending. In my opinion, it sort of ruined the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. Overall, the book is so-so, although, I can't shake off how disappointing the ending was. Agh.
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
Even though this book was a bit boring at points the ending was amazing!!! I loved this book. I think she lived up to her Beauty and the Beast books with this one, It was a sleeping beauty redone in a special and memorable way... It truely sparkled with magic. I suggest it to older readers (ages 14 -20 ) because it is a bit hard to understand because of all of the descriptions each chapter is filled with...!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i first saw this book in barnes and noble and glanced at the back. it looked like a good book, but when i read it, this book was a real drag. i am that type of person that has to stick a book through, no matter how bad it is, but this one tempted me to throw it in the trash. McKinley's descriptions go on for pages and pages, and the only good part was the first 25 pages or so and the last 50. everything else in there was boring and slow and just....grr! i expected more out of mckinley.
Monkeypats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up Spindle's End (a retelling of sleeping beauty) because I loved reading Beauty while I was growing up (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast also by Robin McKinley). I will admit I found the book to be slightly confusing in the beginning - taking awhile to understand and become interested in the characters and the magic. It concentrated too much on trying to create the magical world and not on letting the magic simply speak for itself as needed. McKinley's attempt at a magical fight at the end I also found lacking in magic. It seemed she tried too hard to show the mystical side of the book and forgot about the characters in the final showdown. She is definitely not an author to portray action that would keep you enthralled. In the end though I liked the story overall. I did come to care about the characters and the everyday magic. I do suggest reading Beauty first though, as that is a much better display of McKinley's talents at storytelling and magic-making.
thioviolight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spindle's End is another lovely fairy tale retelling by Robin McKinley. She takes the Sleeping Beauty story and spins it into something new and wonderful while escaping the bonds of convention. Here is a fairy tale for modern times.
jedimarri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I may have found another author to fall in love with! So far the only thing I've read by her is this book, "Spindle's End," but if the rest of her books are any thing like this one then I'm in love! I think you will be too."Spindle's End" is a fanciful retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. The story is set in a land where magic permeates every day life, and there are fairies in most of the villages. When the princess is born the King and Queen decide to invite 21 fairies to be her godparents. Unfortunately, as they each give the princess her gifts, an evil fairy shows up. She curses the princess to die by pricking her finger on a spindle on her 21st birthday. But can the curse be evaded?Katriona is a going to be a fairy when she gets older, and she was blessed enough to attend the Princesses name day ceremony. She finds herself accidentally kidnapping the Princess, but it's the best thing that could have happened! By taking away the Princess to her home village she hides her from the evil fairy, Pernicia, and because of this she has the blessing of the palace, not that any one knows where Katriona and the Princess are.The Princess, who they call Rosie, grows up to be her own determined personality. She talks to animals, doctors horses, and works hand in hand with the village blacksmith. Eventually, though, she must learn her true parentage, and then face Pernicia's curse. Will she manage to triumph? You'll have to read the book to find out!
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was funny, sweet, full of magic, and the characters were entirely engaging. Oh, I'd love to take a holiday in the Gig. And see some baby magic. From a safe distance.
rachelick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
McKinley gives a readable retelling of Sleeping Beauty with Spindle's End. Rosie is adopted by the young fairy Katriona and her aunt after being cursed; she is sheltered by obscurity and ordinariness. She is, as expected, an atypical "princess", not beautiful or demure but full of character. McKinley's writing is eminently readable and she gives new life to an old story. Magic and just a touch of romance, along with some memorable characters, make this story engaging throughout its predicted storyline.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spindle's End, a fantasy novel by Robin McKinley is a reworking of the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. I fully expected to love this book and be totally carried away to another world, but, unfortunately, I found the book long-winded and rather dull. The general flow of the book was disrupted time and time again by pages of description and explanations so wordy that the story got lost.I was disappointed as I think there really was an excellent story buried in this book. Her characters were interesting and just different enough to capture your interest. The story was intriguing, but it was so just so hard to get at. I think this author is a true story-teller and I fully intend to try further books by her. I will keep my fingers crossed that she eventually lets the story simply flow and doesn¿t bog it down with excessive details.
MickyFine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a country where magic collects as dust on every surface and having a fairy on hand is always helpful, the king and queen announce the long awaited birth of their first child, a girl. Inviting one person from every village in the country to the name-day and giving their daughter twenty-one fairy godparents, seems like a good plan. Katriona, a fairy in training, is selected as the representative for her small village in the Gig and gets far more than she bargains for when the evil fairy, Pernicia, curses the baby princess with death by pricking her hand on a spindle and Katriona ends up abducting the princess to keep her safe. Raised by two fairies, Rosie has no notion that she is the cursed princess, but dark magic is persistent and as Rosie's twenty-first birthday approaches the curse looms with a threat that could tear the entire country apart.A rich retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Robin McKinley creates a small group of characters that bring a simple tale to life. The world she creates is delightful, with the tendency for magic to crop up anywhere and fairies who are just like any other trades person. What I particularly enjoy is that Rosie is far from the image of perfection one would expect of a princess, especially one given gifts by fairies, and she is instead flawed and real. The only small issue I had was that there would occasionally be leaps in the plot or the introduction of a character without any real notice and I would attempt to spend time attempting to figure out if I'd missed something. Otherwise, a beautiful fairy retelling with a happy ending that will leave you smiling after you turn the last page.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very atmospheric retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, set in a land where magic holds sway. Light and entertaining, but also nicely written. A good fast read, with enjoyable characters and enough twists to keep things interesting.
thelorelei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, Robin McKinley's retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty was a book I had trouble making sense of as a child. It just didn't fit with the way I felt the story should go. Now that I am an adult, however, I finally appreciate McKinley's deft handling of possibly the most passive princess in all of fairy tale literature. Spindle's End sets this familiar story in a land steeped with magic--so steeped, in fact, that the folk who live there must descale their teapots of magic encrustation so that it will continue to pour tea, and not, say, spiders. Magic is everywhere, and the people deal with it on a daily basis. Either they are fairies and they handle the odd magics themselves, or they hire a fairy to keep things from running amok. Being an avid reader of fantasy novels, I have read many, many books dealing with magic, and this book handles it in a wonderfully logical way. In Spindle's End, magic is a practical, mundane part of life. While the novel's characters recognize it's power, they also are completely accustomed to its effects. This interesting setting informs the tone of the whole story. Rather than talking further about the plot, I will just say that this novel is worth reading merely for the unique experience of this magically drenched setting full of its utterly practical people, of whom our cursed princess is one.
carlyrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I nearly stopped reading this book several times. Too much overly verbose description, not enough character development and action. I loved McKinley's Beauty, but was sorely disappointed in this book.
321Gemstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I'm a fairy tale romantic sometimes, and that makes retold fairy tales one of my favorite. The first that I fell in love with - Ella Enchanted - I've reread more than eight times now. Sadly, I couldn't finish this book the third time through. Though I didn't remember it at first - I was slightly worried that it was one of Ms. McKinley's short story compilations- once I started it, I remembered it all. Don't get me wrong - it's a fabulous book. I just can't read it three times. I got almost to the end, but wasn't able to finish the last chapter or two. It's lame that I can¿t finish- believe me, I know. Despite this sad statistic, this book really is lovely and I really wanted to reread it. The pages - like this sleeping beauty's kingdom - are steeped in magic. There's so much magic in that country that it falls like dust, and causes things to change from what they really are. Fairies are not mystical or wispy like dandelion seeds, but sturdy, homegrown, vegetables. That might seem like a weird simile, but I think it gets my point across ¿ they¿re normal and homely. Normally my favorite character is the main one, but this story sort of has two main characters (it switches perspectives half way through). My favorite is not the princess with 21 names, but rather Katriona, her accidental 21st godmother and care taker. Katriona is only sixteen or so years older than the princess, whom they call "Rosie". It might be because I'm jealous of her magical powers, or the fact that she's been in love with the same person since she was 12. I'm not sure which. It might be how strong she was to protect Rosie, and how wonderful a person she is in general. In comparison with the wild Rosie, she's a lot more gentle and motherly, which I like. She's just... better, for lack of a more creative word. While the villain, and evil fairy is not humanized in the least, many other things - like the lack of sharp spindles - are made clever. Katriona doesn't hide Rosie in the forest, but rather disguises her in a normal town. As Rosie grows, very few of her christening gifts show themselves because of Rosie's natural disposition and stubbornness. Rosie, ever the odd one, was given the gift to speak to animals by Katriona, and uses it in an everyday manner. A much more daring and dangerous escape plan is used to escape the Rosie's planned death. This book enchanted me as Robin McKinley's other fairy tales have done, and is a marvelous bedtime read.
Alliebeth927 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Robin McKinley, and normally can devour one of her books in a day, but I had a hard time losing myself in Spindle's End. The pace seemed jolting and only the last several chapters left me with that 'can't put it down' feeling. If you're looking for a great fairytale, I'd suggest Beauty with much more enthusiasm.
smitten1054 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Too wordy there at the end, so not entirely a pleasant read. The same kind of issues i remember having with McKinley in jr high school. I guess I haven't matured. McKinley's Sunshine is my favorite of all I've read of her's.
SilveredBlue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has a lovely feeling. McKinely is a master of atmosphere, and in this book it truely shows. The symbolic use of the colors purple and black in the naming scene and all the other little details are stunning. The plot is beautiful, though I had to read it twice to appreiciate all the nuances.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Always fun. A new take on Sleeping Beauty, with a very willful princess - and a lot more about her 'raised by fairies' life than any other! Rosie is wonderful, Katriona is great. The ending - the whole solution - is a little convenient (what would they have done if Peony wasn't there or wasn't willing?). And Peony said they couldn't tell Rowland that it would be happy-ever-after, but they didn't tell him what was going on...so what did they tell him? Narl is wonderful, though his great revelation was more than a bit anti-climactic - I agree with Flinx (about time!).
yhaduong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite Robin McKinley books, I return to this one time and time again. It's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty but in a such an unusual manner that it's almost barely the original story. It's a beautiful depiction of a land filled with small and then not so small magics, hidden identities and what it means to be ordinary.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first time I read "Spindle's End" I was so interested in how the story was different from the original fairy tale. This time, I was struck by the emotion in the book. One of Robin McKinley's talents is making fairy tales real and I think she does this by bringing emotion to the forefront. Yes, Katriona saves the princess' life - but it changes her whole life and there is loss as well as gain. The ending particularly explores that loss and gain for many of the main characters. Another theme this book explores is the idea of identity - who someone is and what makes them that person and not another. As usual, the prose is rich and lovely.
krisiti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very nice. Sort of a Briar Rose retelling, but with enough differences that I wondered why she kept her link to the original fairy tale at all.I liked best the parts about the hazards of living in a country with a large amount of ambient background magic, and other background bits. The book seemed too long; I almost would have liked it better with more background and less plot.
gerleliz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought I would like this one better. Just did not hook me
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful fairy tale adaptation, this time of Sleeping Beauty. I love this book - I probably liked fairy tales when I was a kid, but now the kind of story where the princess sits (or lays, as the case may be) around waiting for the prince to rescue her don't appeal to me. This is a much more active story, with the princess taking part in her own defense. The animal characters are fantastic - the different personalities they have are so appropriate to the species. And as always with McKinley's books, the description is incredible, with so much detail that the world seems to come alive.
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this retelling of Sleeping Beauty, McKinley has re-imagined a familiar world and provided her own deft twists. Katriona is but a girl when she is selected to be her village's representative at the long-awaited naming ceremony for the new princess. The ceremony goes awry when a wicked fairy arrives, cursing the baby princess to death by her 21st birthday. In a whirlwind of events, Katriona is the one who grabs the baby and makes a run for safety. With the help of animals along the long journey, she and the infant survive. In her remote village, she and her Aunt raise the princess as a very normal sort of girl named Rosie... a girl who happens to have a knack for talking with animals. The threat of attack is always looming, and as her 21st birthday draws near, a confrontation is inevitable.I really wanted to love this book. I love Sleeping Beauty. I have fond memories of McKinley's books from when I was a preteen. Even though the magic of the world comes across well, this is a book where almost nothing happens until the end. The first 200 pages are almost all filler and tales of the princess as she grows up. At the end when magic is in full force, things became confusing, especially as a wide cast of animals took over. As much as I liked the setting and the twists in a familiar tale, the book was incredibly uneven for me and I had to force myself to finish.