Melissa Rudder's Reviews > Spindle's End

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
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Mar 02, 2008

it was ok
Read in February, 2008

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 characters: the young and heroically responsible Katriona, the quiet and supposedly-mysterious-but-really-rather-transparent and reliable Narl, the beautifully kind and sweet Peony, and the everything-that-she-shouldn't-be Princess, Rosie. The devoted animal friends were rather great too, particularly Fast. Because I cared about some characters, I was, admittedly hooked. But it often felt like it was a chore reading to the book's end, rather than a pleasure.

Part of this had to do with McKinley's treatment of magic. McKinley treats magic as a force flowing through her world, which some can sometimes harness the power of, some can sense the presence of, and some can complain about the dust of. (So many clauses ending in prepositions. Ouch. Too lazy to fix it, though.) So during scenes where there are high levels of magic, characters are shrouded in a confusing fog/magic presence that disorients them and disconnects them from the scene. And so is the reader. Then the fog clears and the characters and reader are forced to look over the wreckage and figure out what happened. I know it's unfair of me to compare every young reader or fantasy book to Harry Potter, but here I go. In the Harry Potter series, crazy magical stuff happens--(Spoilers only for books one through four follow) Voldemort and Harry's wands connect strangely, Harry's touch destroys a powerful wizard, a bird cries and fixes everything--but the reader is able to witness these events and understand them through Rowling's carefully constructed magical world. In McKinley's magical world, Rosie had a whim that the gargoyle spindle end would be important and--wow--it was! No one really explains WHY though. I want my magic to work logically. McKinley's doesn't. She doesn't seem to want it to. But I do.

McKinley, thank goodness, does rehash the Sleeping Beauty story so that it has stronger female characters. Sleeping Beauty and, for that matter, Snow White are pathetic fairy tales as far as women are concerned. Their heroines are so passive and so dependent on their princes that they spend half of the story asleep, helpless, unable to even make cute outfits for mice, grow their hair out, or scrub the floor. McKinley presents a strong female cast. Our heroine rides off to seek out danger and even domestic Peony is a courageous heroic figure.

The plot itself is rather predictable, though often in a pleasant way. It was comfortable knowing more than I should have known, but it also made reading a less suspenseful and emotional experience.

I have either The Hero and the Crown or The Blue Sword resting in my library. I'm not sure if I'm going to bother reading it. Spindle's End just wasn't as good as I had hoped.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Amanda "unable to even make cute outfits for mice"

Mo. I love you. :D


Melissa Rudder Thanks. Did you finish Spindle's End? What did you think?

(I'm going to feel like a total idiot if I go back to my home page and on the very top of "friends updates" is your review of the book.)



Amanda Nope, not yet - I'm just starting Part Five so I figured I'd be able to understand your review by now and I was curious.


Miriam okay, don't know you, but you should (if you haven't already) read the Hero and the Crown. I think that is Robin Mckinley's best book. The Blue Sword was good too, but I didn't quite feel the same spark of adventure and thrill in it. I loved the Hero and the Crown, it was absolutely amazing. Hope you read it. It was a LOT better than Spindle's End.


HRM Maire I hope by this time you have read McKinley's other books. I love her, but Spindle's End is not one of her better books. The Blue Sword is one of her best! Don't miss out on Deerskin or Sunshine, either. They are utterly fantastic.


message 6: by Coeli (new)

Coeli Lawhead The Hero and the Crown is the best McKinley book I have ever read. I highly encourage you to read it :)


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