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Spindle's End (Folktales)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  18,678 Ratings  ·  1,138 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling and Newbery Award-winning author tells a brilliant tale of a sumptuous world (New York Times Book Review).

All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spi
Paperback, 374 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Ace (first published May 22nd 2000)
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Kelsie Yes, all the 'folktales' are standalone stories. I don't know why they're being marketed as a collection, they're completely unrelated to each other.

Community Reviews

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Jul 21, 2008 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Spindle's End (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty) is odd in a lot of respects, and therefore a lot of people aren't going to like it. To outline these:

1. Most of the book is narration. There is very little in the way of dialogue, even when it comes to things that most other authors would have left for characters to say.

2. It is hard to say who the main character really is. The person who you would assume to be the central character at the beginning is very peripheral by the end.

3. While based on a
Moira Russell
This was a really adorable book, altho I think you have to be in the right mood for it. When I started reading it I bogged down a little in an atmosphere which I found sort of Fucking Twee, and then I went back to it later and found it much easier to get into. I really liked the characterizations of Rosie and Peony, especially how they were both good characters without being wimpy or Mary Sues; and I really liked their friendship -- it's a v Chloe-liked-Olivia kind of book. It was interesting to ...more
Melissa Rudder
Robin McKinley's young reader retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, Spindle's End, smells good. It's made up of those yellowing pages that you run your fingers down and feel the soft fibers of, and as you thumb through the pages it fans your face with the invigorating smell of book. And that's probably the best part of it.

I read Spindle's End because I read McKinley's Beauty in seventh grade and can vaguely remember loving it. I didn't love Spindle's End. I did grow to love some of the charact
Spindle's End is a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. I love many of McKinley's other "re-telling" stories, like Beauty and The Outlaws of Sherwood. The first three-quarters of this book are no exception.

The characters are engaging. The description of life in the little community where Rose (Sleeping Beauty) grows up is so idyllic that you want the book to keep going just so you can read about the town.

Unfortunately, the last quarter almost does the book in. The magic in this book show
Jackie "the Librarian"
Oct 13, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fairy tale lovers
A fun, greatly expanded retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with Briar Rose going against stereotype by being a strapping young woman with a love for animals and the outdoors, and no regard for her beautiful blonde hair.
I really enjoyed the story until the confrontation with the evil fairy Pernicia. Then Robin pulls her familiar trick of a foggy vague battle and some unexplained magic to get us through to the end. Bad Robin!
Oh, well, most readers will forgive her. I, though, choose to dock her a sta
Aug 05, 2011 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been an interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty. McKinley had some good ideas, but the plot rambled along at such a boring pace that it's hard to remember what they were. Long-winded and useless descriptions of every mundane thing you can imagine were a huge part of what bogged the book down. I think if it had been chopped down to 150 or 200 pages, it would have made a pretty decent story. At 400 plus pages? Not so much.

I also thought that the fact that her love interest was 20
May 28, 2012 Macha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was really disappointing. especially after such a fine beginning, with the imaginative world-building, the detail on just everything gloriously written, and some promising characters. and she's clearly engaged in taking apart the fairy tale to take a close look, something that always gets my vote.

unfortunately, it doesn't last. too bad. that whole headlong flight of Katriona's with the baby, and how the animals buy in, it's just lovely; i settled in. but Katriona's issues fade into Rosie's
Jul 14, 2014 Shauna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was much I liked about this book, and much I was frustrated with. First I felt it was too long. This is a bad sign. If the book is irresistible, I don't mind if it goes on and on. But this one was tricky, full of rogue magic that changed things willy nilly and was hard to control, characters that likewise changed prominence back and forth throughout the story, endless animal names without helpful reference points (how I am supposed to remember which was a dog, fox, cat, horse, owl, whateve ...more
Mar 29, 2007 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I grew up reading Robin Mckinley, and periodically like to revisit her works. While Beauty was the first book I read by her (and the first book I reread until the spine wore out), and her Damar books hold a special fascination for me, there is something about Spindle's End that keeps me coming back.

Maybe that's because Mckinley is more open with the workings of magic in this world; in other books magic is a furtive, secretive thing, like a wild animal. We get more of fairies and magicians and ba
May 17, 2010 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel bad giving this book so few stars. But I honestly can't say that I enjoyed it. I actually skipped parts, and the darn thing was only 300 or so pages long.

McKinley is a good writer; she produces gorgeous and very funny prose, she's a master worldbuilder, and she creates believable characters and complex plots. I would have happily read the short story version of this novel. But I got bored at about the hundred page mark.

The reason I got bored is that this novel began with Rosie's birth (as
Jun 12, 2008 Gloryseeker33 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All ages
I have read a number of books by this author and really liked all of them, but this one is a standout for me. It is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, but goes far beyond the limitations of the original tale. The author manages to create a delightful, suspend-disbelief magical kingdom and populates the story with fully rounded characters who are both entertaining and engage the reader's sympathies, along with a plot line that departs from fairy tale formula just enough to keep us guessing ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tween and teen girls, people that like fairy stories with grubby princesses
I can't believe I've not read this since I started using Goodreads!

I love this book, it's such a beautiful, gentle story, McKinley at her best. The plot is obviously based around the Sleeping Beauty fairy story, but really, it only starts like it (fairy curses princess to prick her finger on a spindle and die on her 21st birthday).

McKinley writes a tale of a no-nonsense girl, Rosie who grows up in a small village, the guardian of two fairies, not knowing that she is the princess. She is the lea
Apr 18, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Beauty (retelling of Beauty and the Beast) by this author when I was at BYU and really enjoyed it. My friends Robin & Camille lent me this book and The Hero and the Crown (which I will read next).

This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was great! It had a lot of depth and characters in it, plus some fun and sad/happy twists.

I love juvenile literature because it avoids the raunchy stuff that most adult literature has. This was not an "easy" read though. It was full of rich language
Aug 21, 2015 Stellarseas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Я ожидала, конечно, шо-то необычное в конце, НО ЧТОБ ТАК!
This is total comfort reading for me. Like being wrapped in a big fluffy blanket of fairy tales. Fairy tale retellings are the best. All the romance and fantasy with much less of the sexism.

The magic in this book is a little woojy, and maybe that was McKinley's intention, but it makes it hard for me to visualize the scenes that are mostly about magic. The setting the rest of the time is wonderful and easy to picture.

Evil contains the seeds of its own destruction. Family is less about blood than
May 23, 2011 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an adaptation of the Sleeping Beauty legend. Imagine what would happen to a real girl if she were "blessed" with all of the gifts the fairies could imagine for her, and her gifts actually scared her? It was definitely an intriguing take on the story. As with all stories by McKinley, it made me think.
Jul 27, 2010 Ali rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
I have so much to say, and not much of it is good. Let's proceed from that statement, shall we?

1. This book is classified as a YA/Teen read. While many teens and young adults could read and even enjoy the novel, I'm surprised that it's not in the adult fiction section of the bookstore. (And by that, I don't mean the romance/erotica- maybe I should just say the fiction section.) Spindle's End is closer to Wicked in terms of length and made-up/fantastical words, so I'm not sure why one is fiction
Aug 01, 2009 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hypnotic, tangled and often impenetrable narrative. The briar roses that grow up around the sleepers in this oddly compelling retelling of the Sleeping Beauty legend are a good metaphor for how McKinley's words coil around each other in paths untraceable by me. There are lovely, memorable passages which exist almost independent of the story, one of which I think I'll keep forever.

"What you describe is how it happens to everyone: magic does slide through you, and disappear, and come back later l
Jul 21, 2016 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Considering how much I loved Beauty, I was disappointed with this book. Rosie, Katriona, Aunt, Narl, Peony are all good characters, but I just couldn't get into the story. The pacing was slow, covering 21 years of Rosie's life, most of which nothing happens. Well, what happens is she grows up not knowing she is the princess and makes friends with a lot of people and animals who will be important in the climax. Even so, large chunks of the book could be cut out without the reader missing anything ...more
May 07, 2008 rivka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has everything that was missing from the same author's Beauty -- not simply a retelling of a classic fairy tale, but a reimagining. The pacing is marvelous, the foreshadowing-without-giving-anything-away spectacular, and the ending brilliant.

The backstory of the fairies and the other supporting characters is lovely -- fantastic yet realistic. The depth of characterizations is excellent.

Absolutely marvelous!
Jul 30, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, lovers of fairy tales retold
Shelves: fantasy, ya, fairy-tales
I loved this book. Only the odd, disorienting shifts of chronology kept me from giving it five stars. In particular, I love the beast-speech--definitely a gift I'd like to have!--and the complete creation of a believable, realistic, and yet utterly fantastic fantasy world. I love books that make it easy to visualize the story, and I had no trouble at all finding myself in the world of this book.
Dec 17, 2014 Mallory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My thoughts every five pages: "It's okay, you're slogging through, but it will get interesting and pay off soon." My thoughts every two pages: "Awh, that was well-written, and what an adorable idea. Can I stop reading yet?" It never compelled me to read. 350/420 pages in I started skimming, because I couldn't take the agony anymore. I almost dropped the book with a handful of pages left at the end because I SO. Didn't. Care. If a portion of the cute ideas in this book were put into another book ...more
Jul 30, 2016 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really torn about this book. On one hand, I want to love it because it's a fairy tale-and this book does an excellent job of maintaining the magic. On the other hand, it is WAY too long, contains indecipherable prose (occasionally) and has a less than satisfying ending.

I did not enjoy McKinley's style, I found I couldn't understand what she was saying a good portion of the time. It reminded me of Gregory Maguire-this is not a compliment. Additionally, she had an annoying habit of sharing na
Aug 10, 2016 Jaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
A high 3.5 stars. This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

This is a very . . . strange book.

My mother read it before I did, and she handed it off to me with the pensive remark that "it's like an older Gail Carson Levine." I can sort of see what she meant, the way McKinley took such a traditional fairytale and spun a completely new story out of it, but under the surface I don't think there are really many similarities at all between, say, Levine's Ella Enchanted and Fairest duo a
Jun 15, 2016 Embiel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
My mother once asked me "Why with so many books in the world, why do you reread some books over and over? You're wasting your time." That's a valid question. We only have so much time on this earth and for readers we are hungry to get in as many novels as we can during that time. But certain books stay with you. They become apart of your history. And when you reread them it's like being brought back or its capturing that feeling you had when you read them for the first time. It's like a blanket ...more
Feb 23, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another of Robin McKinley's excellent adaptations of fairy tales, Spindle's End re-envisions Sleeping Beauty with a number of strong female characters and hardly any sleeping.

The bare bones of the well-known story are intact, with Princess Briar-Rose (who has 20 other names that come before that which I couldn't list to save my life) being placed under a curse at her Naming Celebration. Spirited away by a fairy named Katriona, the newly re-christened Rosie is raised in a tiny backwater town as a
Emily Snyder
Aug 20, 2011 Emily Snyder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spindle's End is one of those delightful fairy tale expansions, and an excellent addition to McKinley's bookshelf.


At the time of its printing, much was made of the fact that the final, IMPORTANT kiss came not only *from* a woman, but *to* a woman as well. Although the kiss is non-romantic, but practical (more like the fairy tale equivalent of the kiss of life), concerned parents need not worry overmuch. However, in the wake of the social changes happening in the world today, parents of
I had a hard time getting into this the first time I tried reading it. I think it was the tiny font of the first edition I attempted to read more than anything.

The second time around was pretty much a straight shot. It helps that finished reading Sunshine a few days ago, so that had me craving more McKinley. Now, this novel sucked me right into its world right from the very first page, and it was really one of those novels where the small details really made the story, such as the princess's ou
Jenna St Hilaire
Already impressive for her ability to achieve a variety of moods and styles—her opus ranges from the mythic, ethereal Beauty to the serious, detailed The Hero and The Crown—McKinley further proved her authorial flexibility with Spindle’s End, which is flat-out hilarious. This novel struck me as a four-hundred-page cousin to Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, what with fairy godmothers giving awkward gifts and magic being a quirky, ever-present part of daily life. I was also pleasantly put in m ...more
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Fairy Tales Eclectic: "Spindle's End" Discussion - November 2014 Group Read 40 28 Dec 04, 2014 11:03AM  
  • Zel
  • The Tower at Stony Wood
  • Firebird (Fairy Tales #1)
  • Never After
  • Fitcher's Brides
  • Golden
  • The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold
  • Briar Rose
  • Black Thorn, White Rose
  • Thornspell
  • The Wild Swans (Faerie Tale)
  • Snow White And Rose Red
Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books
More about Robin McKinley...

Other Books in the Series

Folktales (3 books)
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
  • Rose Daughter

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“When they finished laughing they were on their way to being not just friends, but the dearest of friends, the sort of friends whose lives are shaped by the friendship.” 129 likes
“Cats were often familiars to workers of magic because to anyone used to wrestling with self-willed, wayward, devious magic--which was what all magic was--it was rather soothing to have all the same qualities wrapped up in a small, furry, generally attractive bundle that...might, if it were in a good mood, sit on your knee and purr. Magic never sat on anybody's knee and purred.” 52 likes
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