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Fractured Fables #1

A Spindle Splintered

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)
It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

128 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 5, 2021

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About the author

Alix E. Harrow

40 books15.5k followers
a former academic, adjunct, cashier, blueberry-harvester, and kentuckian, alix e. harrow is now a full-time writer living in virginia with her husband and their semi-feral kids.

she is the hugo award-winning and nyt-bestselling author of THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY (2019), THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES (2020), a duology of fairytale novellas (A SPINDLE SPLINTERED and A MIRROR MENDED), and various short fiction. her next book, STARLING HOUSE will be out on halloween 2023!

her writing is represented by kate mckean at howard morhaim literary agency.

newsletter: https://writtenworld.substack.com/
email: alixeharrow at gmail.com
insta: alix.e.harrow

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,375 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews152k followers
August 19, 2022
Alix. E. Harrow is one of my auto-buy authors, and her debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January —a book about stories and doors and how, sometimes, the two are interchangeable—is one my heart books. When I picked up A Spindle Splintered, it was for the indulgence of a fun and short story that reimagines (to borrow some of the author’s words) "the spider-verse but with sleeping beauties", but I found much more than I bargained for. Many and fierce delights, and terrors too.

I went into this novella with nothing but those words—spider-verse meets Sleeping Beauty—and my experience of reading it was better for it. So I don't want to surrender too much in the way of a summary, but I will say this:

In this novella, Harrow manages to reinvent the seductive whimsy and archetypal resonance of fairytales with depth and tenderness and intelligence. She fills her female characters with agency and flips the fairytale narrative of disempowerment and dependence on its head. In these pages are stories about girls with starved hearts who learn to draw power from worlds that wish them dead but which incorrectly anticipated their sheer covetousness for life, their wild hunger for more than: more than the shitty handsome prince and the shitty luck and the shitty story. Because it’s not only the dying girls who like Sleeping Beauty—it’s also the girls who are so unbearably desperate to live.

I fell asleep thinking of this novella, wondering about fate and curses and the shapes of the invisible cages around us. I thought about stories a lot too—the stories we are thrust into and desperately hope for a way out of, the stories we fear might unfold without us when we’re not looking, and the stories that are sealed in us, coiled tight in our guts, waiting to unspool. And when I thought about Charm, I thought about love—the people we love and the people who love us and how important it is to reach across the silent gulfs that keep us apart, to show each other our woundedness, our brokenness, our bruised but still-beating hearts. How to love each other properly, in ways that turn our love into a key instead of a cage.

When I woke, it was with a bristling kind of hope, that same fist-clench of hunger in the belly that the characters of this novella are spurred by—a hunger to believe in magic and power (not power over something, but power that comes from within, self-generated and endless) and possibilities as immense as oceans, that tumbling headlong desire to take your story in both hands and plunge over the edge, to long not for a better ending, but for “a better once upon a time.”

A gift wrapped in an appealingly slim volume, A Spindle Splintered is both a tribute and a loving critique of fairytales, the two coming together in a dizzying constellation of awareness: awareness of the tropes that underpin the genre, of the ways in which the story plays into them, and the ways in which it ultimately departs from them. It is clearly the novel of a writer with an abundant fondness for fairytales, and it shows in the most splendid of ways.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,509 reviews31k followers
October 18, 2021
ooof. this has about twenty pop culture references too many for me to personally enjoy this.

i think i will stick to AHs full length novels because this was too short for me to appreciate the story. it honestly felt like it was trying too hard, cramming in so much into such a limited space. and also, i know this is fiction, and a fairytale inspired story on top of that, but not a single character acted realistically and the world-building made no sense.

so between the pop culture references, rushed narrative, and weird characterisation, this just felt like a bunch of nonsense.

2 stars
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,472 reviews9,387 followers
March 7, 2023
Two girls destined to die cross paths, altering their doomed fates, in this whimsical modern-day reimagining of Sleeping Beauty.

Due to an industrial accident, Zinnia Gray, was left with a rare and fatal condition. The prognosis of which means she won't live to see her 22nd-birthday.

As bleak as that is, Zin has had a great life, surrounded by people who love her so much. Including her best friend, Charm, who decides to throw Zin a Sleeping Beauty-themed party for her 21st-birthday, complete with tower and spinning wheel.

Zin, not really in the mood for a party, goes along with it nevertheless. Charm put in so much effort.

As the festivities come to a close, Zin pricks her finger on the spinning wheel at midnight, and is thusly transported into another world. It happens to be where the real Briar Rose lives.

It is there that the two women's lives become intertwined, as they work together to try to save themselves from their fates.

It's no secret that I wasn't the biggest fan of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but I never give up on an author after only one try. This story is the perfect example of why. Oh, my goodness!

Wow, holy smokes. I am floored by how different my opinion of Harrow's writing is now; after only 128-pages. Alix E. Harrow is redeemed!!!

As mentioned above, this is a fairly short novella, but no less impactful because of it. It is a rollicking good time, with adventure, friendship, danger and just the right amount of hat=tipping to the original story.

I loved the feminist undertones woven throughout, as well as the relationship formed between Zin and Briar Rose.

The dynamic between them was just so fun. Because they were from completely different worlds, they had a lot to discover about one another, but Harrow kept it so witty and fun!

I'm so excited that the next installment of this novella series will be tackling the tale of Snow White; absolutely my vibe. It's going to be great!

Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this one to read and review. I listened to it in one night and had an absolute blast doing so!!

Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
September 3, 2022
I never cared much for fairy tales, although Brothers Grimm versions were much cooler than the sanitized Disneyfied princess dreams they have become for generations of mostly girl children. Disney princesses made my kid self scoff judgmentally while I chose to watch Jacques Cousteau instead. Yeah, I was a little brat.
“I used to see Sleeping Beauty as my wildest, most aspirational fantasy—a dying girl who didn’t die, a tragedy turned into a romance. But suddenly I saw her as my mere reflection: a girl with a shitty story. A girl whose choices were stolen from her.”

Recently I also started feeling a bit annoyed seeing the ever-present trend of fairytale retellings — “Come up with an original story!” my brain screams while understanding that the built-in audience for well-loved childhood stories will always be lucrative. So I was a bit skeptical about this Sleeping Beauty-inspired story, but it’s *the* Alix Harrow who has written a perfect short story (“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” found here), and I decided to give it a chance.

And you know what — it ended up entertaining enough. Not perfect, but not bad at all.
“I don’t know about the moral arc of the universe, but our arcs sure as hell don’t bend toward justice. Unless we change them. Unless we grab our narratives by the ear and drag them kicking and screaming toward better endings. Maybe the universe doesn’t naturally bend toward justice either; maybe it’s only the weight of hands and hearts pulling it true, inch by stubborn inch.”

Zinnia has a disease that is about to kill her, but before that happens through narrative resonance she ends up in a version of a Sleeping Beauty tale (because multiverse) and befriends a princess who’s destined for the century-long sleep and eventual prince’s kiss. Even that fate seems ok to Zinnia when compared to death — and yet she decides to help the princess, all while keeping in touch with her best friend back in our reality (and I’m figuratively dying to know who her mobile carrier is to have perfect reception between Ohio and Fantasyland.)
“I start to type back an apology then pause, wondering about data rates between Ohio and wherever the hell I am and how exactly I have cell signal, before that wild hysteria bubbles over. I write sorry babe. got spider-verse-ed into a fairy tale.”

This story does skew a bit young, with the “you can be anything you want to be” vibe, and finding yourself discoveries that serve a young person well, a coming-of-age in a few short Fantasyland days. It is also full of pop culture references and meme wink-winks that will feel quite dated in a few short years. And the writing itself is hyper-aware of tropes and pointedly, humorously and insistently point them out before skewering them, at times a bit too in-your-face.
“I wish briefly but passionately that I’d been zapped into a different storyline, maybe one of those ’90s girl power fairy tale retellings with a rebellious princess who wears trousers and hates sewing. (I know they promoted a reductive vision of women’s agency that privileged traditionally male-coded forms of power, but let’s not pretend girls with swords don’t get shit done.)”
“At some point I suppose I should stop being surprised when the princess is more than a doe-eyed maiden, ready to faint prettily at the first sign of danger. I’m always annoyed when people are surprised that I have a personality beyond my disease, as if they expect me to be nothing but brave smiles and blood-spotted handkerchiefs.”

But Harrow writes well, and somehow the meta-awareness of the tropes and pop culture hyper-referencing ended up less annoying than I feared. If anything, it’s snarkily playful which mostly worked for me.
“My only friend in this entire backwards-ass pre-Enlightenment world is about to be married off to a sentient cleft chin.”

The part I liked is the acknowledgment that before the bright and shiny dream of Disney princesses fairy tales were reflective of the world, subtly dark, with a lot of things hiding in plain sight. The world where “true love kiss” by a stranger actually was a rape of an unconscious woman - that kind of world. Harrow does just enough to get the point across without switching the overall tone to much darker, but it’s still there and done well.
“Right now you’re thinking: this isn’t how the story goes. You might not have a degree in this shit but you’ve seen enough Disney movies and picture books to know there’s supposed to be a handsome prince and true love and a kiss, which can’t be consensual because unconscious people can’t consent, but at least it breaks the curse and the princess wakes up.

But in the very oldest versions of this story—before the Grimms, before Perrault—the prince does far worse than kiss her, and the princess never wakes up.”

Oh, but how much do I wish that it had gone just a bit further, for a bit more of a consequential bite instead of a playful nibble. Because when you bring up (even peripherally) a story of Sleeping Beauty in which an unconscious woman gets impregnated by her “rescuer” I hope for a bit more consequential and less pleasant theme development.

Overall it’s a lighthearted ribbing on the fairytale tropes, with a requisite happy ending and a brushing by uncomfortable fairytales themes with a bit of subversion but still with enough warm fuzzies for a pleasant entertaining read.

3.5 stars.

Also posted on my blog.


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2022
Profile Image for Robin.
297 reviews1,283 followers
October 6, 2021
↠ 5 stars

Sleeping Beauty comes crashing into the multiverse by way of Alix E. Harrow, author of The Once and Future Witches and The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Destined to not survive her twenty-first birthday due to a rare genetic disorder, Zinnia Gray has always felt a strong affinity to sleeping beauty, someone who shares in her fate. Then miraculously her birthday arrives and nothing of note occurs, that is until her best friend decides to throw a birthday party worthy of sleeping beauty herself. All Zinnia does is prick her finger on the spindle of the spinning wheel and she’s transported far from her hometown to a strange world, one not so different from her own. Though the world may be lacking in some respects there in it also lies a girl desperate enough to escape her fate. Together Zinnia and Beauty rally other sleeping beauties from across the worlds to try to change their circumstances, taking their destinies into their own hands.

Well Alix E. Harrow certainly never misses the mark when it comes to crafting a fascinating story I would sell my soul to read immediately. This time it's a short sleeping beauty retelling that spans a little over a hundred pages but crosses multiple worlds. I would say this is in the vein of Into the Spider-Verse since it deals with multiple dimensions and characters of similar titles joining hands. Just as her first two novels completely mesmerized me, this one was no different. Turns out even when Harrow writes a shorter novel I am still bound to enjoy it as much as the others, to the point where my only complaint is that I wish it was longer. Sleeping beauty was never one of my favorite fairy tales for the reasons Zinnia so aptly points out at the beginning of the novel. However, I am happy to say I have changed my tune now that Harrow has sunk her teeth into a reimagining of the story. This crossed a search for agency with the original tale so brilliantly I cannot stop thinking about it. There is just something about finding unity among those to which you share similar situations with that Harrow has exemplified in her writing time and time again. Though Zinnia and Beauty are from different worlds and backgrounds, there is a sense of solidarity that binds them and the other sleeping beauties together as they go forward on their quest. It really was one of the more compelling parts of the text. Not that the entire novel did not sway my emotions and make me have deep feelings at any other point than that. A Spindle Splintered is Alix. E Harrow’s love letter to the transcendence of sisterhood and the common struggles that bind all women. Ties that can bring us together oftentimes in strange ways, but are by no means any less powerful.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: blood, genetic disorder, terminal illness, rape (mentioned)
October 24, 2021
To say fairy tales are only full of fun, magic, and songs would be a false assumption. From the Grimm Brothers, regional folklore, and Disney, there is a sinister side in most tales; whether it be narcissism or murder, child abuse or kidnapping, evil spells and witches, or some dreadful songs, there is a darker side lurking. I have grown up enjoying fairy tales and being Peter, like the boy who never grew up, I’m aptly named to delve into these stories without hesitation. Although I love the more fractured modern versions, A Spindle Splintered playing on the Sleeping Beauty tale called out to me Once Upon a Dream.

Zinnia (Zin) Gray is a young woman fated to be living her last year because of a rare terminal illness, and no one has ever lived past twenty-one. Zin’s close friend, Charm, has organised a Sleeping Beauty themed twenty-first birthday party complete with a tower, decorations and spinning wheel. Playing out the theme, Zin touches the tip of the spindle, and when she draws blood, she is transported to another universe where she meets Primrose – the perfect image of a fairy tale princess.

I appreciate that Alix Harrow carries multiple messages in her stories, and fantasy is always a perfect genre to use as the vehicle. She delivers a strong take on the power of women to take charge and not accept the stereotypical behaviour of a damsel in distress or asleep in this case. Both Zin and Primrose challenge the typical inevitability and seek answers to the curses that have befallen them. This context also expands to a multi-verse that introduces many instances of the Sleeping Beauty characters. Zin, Primose and Charm embark on an adventure to find answers and not go quietly to a predestined fate. Their journey of busting open the fairy tale is enthralling, captivating with clever surprises, and embraced with calculating humour.

I experienced this story as an audiobook wonderfully narrated by Amy Landon. She effortlessly switches between accents that underpin the characters and the scenes in the story. I would recommend this book, and it’s the start of a “Fractured Fables” series which will appeal to those fascinated with modern retelling and repositioning of renowned fairy tales. I want to thank Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews111k followers
February 6, 2022
I really like the parallel between the main character’s chronic illness and Sleeping Beauty’s curse to sleep forever. There’s clear themes in this short story: the idea that their lives are fragile and limited as they’re both “cursed” by passivity with mortality, and deciding to fight against their fate and take charge of their own stories. The writing in this novella was a bit too simplistic and juvenile for my tastes though, which made it difficult to take the messages seriously. I’ve read the author’s other work before and thought the quality of writing was better, so I wonder if she decided to just experiment with different styles in this novella. Tonally, the book actually reminds me of Shrek, where it constantly references pop culture, breaking the fourth wall, fairy tales, and subverting tropes. Much of the messaging is very on-the-nose and might be too meta in a way that’s more cheesy than clever (i.e. lines like “I hope you find your happily ever after”, “I’m just looking for a better once upon a time”, etc) It’s not my thing, but I could see a reader vibing with this if they’re looking for a light read with tongue-in-cheek writing.
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,295 followers
December 31, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice nominee in Fantasy!

Recently someone told me they’re “tired of retellings”, which I cannot at all relate to. Every time I feel myself approaching that thought I see another fairytale retelling advertised somewhere and I’m like “Ooooh?!?!!???”, immediately falling down a new rabbit hole.

But if you feel this way, even though you are wrong, I can understand where that feeling comes from. Sometimes you see your millionth YA Fantasy Beauty and the Beast retelling and it’s like OH MY GOD, ENOUGH. But what I think separates the good ones, like A Spindle Splintered from the ones that make me want to walk into the ocean, like the Camila Cabello adaptation of Cinderella, are one of two things. Either the fairytale is a less prominent one, like Little Thieves’ take on The Goose Girl, or it significantly challenges the source material while also honoring the important pieces of it.

And while you could definitely argue that though Sleeping Beauty is a famous princess, she’s not usually the most enticing one for authors to emulate, I think Alix Harrow’s novella A Spindle Splintered falls more in the second category than the first. Zinnia Gray, a girl with a degenerative illness, is Harrow’s take on the titular character from the original fable. After pricking her finger on a spinning wheel, Zinnia falls through a sort of fantastical princess multi-verse and ends up crashing into someone else’s story. Desperate to escape her own looming ending, Zinnia tries to save another Beauty as a last ditch effort to also save herself.

This is a novella, and around one third the size of a full-length fantasy novel. For me, this was perfect for the story being told here. Anything more could have easily turned into a big bloated mess, unnecessarily adding filler in order to reach some arbitrary page quota. Instead, what we got was a funny, emotional and sharp examination of a classic fairytale that has traditionally symbolized the lack of agency for female characters in their own stories. Instead of allowing the pieces on the board to move around her, Zinnia seizes her fate and bends it to her own will, and I loved every minute of it.

I’m sure there’s some people who think anything that diverges from the ‘traditional’ telling they’re used to is a kind of bastardization of the story. This is ridiculous for a number of reasons, not least of all because there is no true original versions. Humans have twisted our stories to accommodate the times we live in since we first started telling them, and your own personal, rose-colored nostalgic interpretation is not inherently correct. The idea of an innumerable amount of renderings of Sleeping Beauty and other princess stories is brought up in Spindle, with the opening to introduce even more into this literary universe. And I am so excited to see what tale Alix Harrow spins for us next.
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,611 followers
November 14, 2021
3.75 Stars! This was an enjoyable novella. I mention this all the time but I am a sucker for fairytale retellings, especially if they are sapphic or gender bending, so I was really looking forward to this book. After a really promising start to my November reads, I’ve gone into a mini slump so this novella was exactly what I needed. I loved how this had a modern feel, yet it was still mixed with magical fairytale-ness. There was also a new spin –that you will really understand if you are a superhero fan- and I loved all the different possibilities that it opened up for new storylines. There is a sequel coming in ’22, that really utilizes this new spin, and I’m even more excited about that book than I was this one.

My only slight miss was that I could have used a little more character development. I know that it is hard to fit everything into a novella, and I think Harrow did a good job considering, but I wanted more which I think would have helped me connect more. I did finally feel like I was getting to understand Zinnia, but it happened at the way end of the book. This is another reason why I’m so excited for the sequel because I expect with more time I will connect a lot more. This is a series that I can really see just getting better and better with each book and I can’t wait to read more.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
377 reviews548 followers
December 8, 2022
"A Spindle Splintered" by Alix E. Harrow is the first book in the 'Fractured Fables' novella series.

Zinnia Gray is turning 21 years old and knows this is most likely the last birthday she'll ever celebrate. She has a rare condition not much is known about other than no one has lived to age twenty-two.

Charm, her BFF, is determined to make a birthday celebration worthy of Zinnia's dreams. She's shooting for the complete Sleeping Beauty experience with a huge tower and spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, she finds herself in an alternate world!

Zinnia is face-to-face with a fairy-tale princess and begins a mission to do all she can to save Primrose from a fate worse than death...

A creative retelling of Sleeping Beauty with strong female overtones and modern day damsel-in-distress twists! This story is fun, rip-quick, and packed with dark humor, colorful language, feminism, the power of sisterhood, and lesbian characters! Oh, and cell phone communication, too!

I listened to the 3+ hour audiobook narrated by Amy Landon who does an amazing job of bringing Zinnia to life. Her voicing skills are first rate and she pulls off all the dark humor and colorful language in such a perfectly unique way. It was quite brilliant, really!
I can't wait to read the next book in this series A Mirror Mended.
Profile Image for Luffy.
940 reviews702 followers
October 22, 2021
I thought I wouldn't be surprised by this thin volume. I was wrong. This book is just what I like about stories that keep reeling you in, while you enjoy every scent, every sight, every sound that it has to offer.

I think the half happy, half sad ending was entirely out of the blue. I would have preferred a happier ending. But the end is not yet come. I wish I could meet the author and ask her how she devised this thing that I read in hours. How cascading, and how illuminating this experience reached her imagination.

The book is a fairy tale. It is that. It is much more. Look, part of me was aloof when beginning reading. I knew there will be manipulative twists to this story. I was a willing participant in this read. But the best twists are those that you forget are manipulative.

Even now, I don't know what hit me. Perhaps others won't be impressed. There is a certain love story here, but that too is a surprise. I hope when reading this book you'll understand this review. I want to read the sequels, the more manipulative the better.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
March 17, 2021
Feminism crashes into Sleeping Beauty, and Sleeping Beauty will never be quite the same. And that's not a bad thing. Also, Alix Harrow's writing is amazingly good. I wish I could put together a sentence like that.

I love fairy-tale themed stories AND multiverse fiction, and this is such a fun combination of the two! Plus I've gained a new appreciation for novellas after reading so many doorstoppers in the last few years. So I started looking at this last night and somehow ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.

RTC. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!
Profile Image for Tim.
471 reviews595 followers
January 5, 2022
"Even among other nerds who majored in folklore, Sleeping Beauty is nobody's favorite. Romantic girls like Beauty and the Beast; vanilla girls like Cinderella; goth girls like Snow White. Only dying girls like Sleeping Beauty."

It's Zinnia Gray's 21st birthday, and given that she suffers from a rare medical condition with a life expectancy of under 22 years, it's likely the last she will ever have. During her childhood she had an obsession with Sleeping Beauty, a story she related to knowing that she too had a deadline before her endless sleep. On this birthday, she does the natural thing, drinks too much and enjoys a night with her only friend in an abandoned tower. Her friend knowing her so well sets up a Sleeping Beauty theme for her last party but when she pricks her finger, she doesn't fall asleep. She finds herself in a fairy tale universe, and she needs to figure out the rules of and how Grimm it will be.

So, I'm going to make a slight confession here. I love stories that put twisted spins on fairy tales. I studied them for quite some time for a paper I wrote, and I love seeing modern authors put their own spins on these timeless tales, as such this book really worked for me.

It's a fun little book. The lead makes quite a few pop-culture which may be off putting to some readers, but I personally enjoyed (calling it fairy tale Spider-Verse is one of the best nods I've read in some time). I loved that the book was clearly researched as it makes nods to many of the variations of the fairy tale.

The book is short (only 119 pages) so it won't take up too much of your time. That said, I enjoyed every page of it. Well worth a read. 4/5 stars
September 24, 2021
This is a wonderful novella--a "fractured" re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story with a modern day twist. I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed this book, because I'm definitely not much into this genre, but Harrow gives the perfect feminist, lesbian-affirming twist to the tale.

Zinnia Gray is turning 21, and knows she's living on borrowed time. Afflicted with a disease that causes protein deposits to build up in her organs, she knows her life is short. Her lifelong obsession with all Sleeping Beauty-related stories spurs her best friend Charmaine to organize an epic Sleeping Beauty themed 21st birthday party in "the highest tower in the land" (the guard tower of a defunct penitentiary), complete with a spinning wheel on which Zin pricks her finger. Zin is transported to another dimension, a fairy-tale world with a perfect princess, Primrose, whom Zin knows she needs to save because she knows what's ahead for Primrose. But the events that follow aren't like any fairy tale Zin has ever read, and who knows what might happen to provide a happily ever after?

This tale is fast-paced and creatively told. I was rooting for the best outcome for all involved, and Harrow delivered that for me. There's a great deal of sarcastic humor throughout and I'm all for that! There are surprises around every corner, and I just loved the directions and twists the author took in her writing of this tale. The characters are unique and fun, and the dual timelines? dimensions? are also totally unexpected and fun.

I listened to this as an audiobook and Amy Landon's narration is fantastic. She provides the perfect voice for Zin and I believe helped me to be even more invested in the story than if I had read it on the page.

This is the first book in the Fractured Fables series, and I can't wait to see what happens to Zin and the crew in the next installment.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,010 followers
April 13, 2022
I love a good fractured fairy tale and who would have thought anyone could write one this good based on boring Sleeping Beauty.

A Spindle Splintered is a reimagining of the tale of the Sleeping Beauty, but in this case the Princess refuses to play her normal role and fights for better choices in her life. She is aided by Zinnia, a twenty year old girl living in modern day America who is dying from a rare disease. She imagines herself to be like Sleeping Beauty about to go to sleep forever and when she pricks her finger she sets amazing events in action.

Zinnia, her friend Charm, and a number of other Princesses come together across multiple dimensions and many literary versions. (Best not to try and understand the technicalities, just go with the flow and enjoy the fun.) It is lots of fun too - Harrow has a cunning sense of humour.

I enjoyed it all enormously and am looking forward to the second book to see what happens to these delightful characters.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
416 reviews170 followers
January 10, 2022
This is a slick, booksmart, subversive Sleeping Beauty that I polished off in a couple hours. Then I spent the next 24 pondering why I didn't like it more, especially considering that a) I once considered getting an MA in fairy tales and folklore, b) Alix Harrow has clearly read many of the same books I have, and c) she pens some lovely lines and observes some astute details.

A Spindle Splintered lies somewhere between Sleeping Beauty, portal fantasy, and...Lurlene McDaniel (what, you didn't spend your preteens reading about kids with terminal diseases?). Our heroine is Zinnia Gray, the victim of a teratogenic pollutant that has left her with progressive amyloidosis, which causes protein plaques to form in her tissues and which no one has lived beyond age 22 with. On her 21st birthday, Zinnia, slightly drunk on shitty beer and self-pity, stabs her finger on a secondhand spinning wheel bought for a Sleeping Beauty themed party. Unexpectedly, the result is not tetanus but transportation to a fairy tale world with another cursed princess in it.

Cue lots of opportunities to rewrite stories, examine the meaning of curses, save princesses, seize the day, and celebrate friendships and family. Uh, yeah. I think I've just figured out why this book isn't my thing. There's some interesting feminist commentary embedded in the story, but it doesn't go much beyond this level:
I wish briefly but passionately that I'd been zapped into a different storyline, maybe one of those '90s girl power fairy tale retellings with a rebellious princess who wears trousers and hates sewing. (I know they promoted a reductive vision of women's agency that privileged traditionally male-coded forms of power, but let's not pretend girls with swords don't get shit done.)

The writing is allusive in a slightly self-conscious way, name-dropping everything from Robin McKinley to Gormenghast to Pixar ("Dad is the established crier of the family - he was asked to "get a grip or leave the theater" during the last twenty minutes of Coco"). I like some of the details, while the flippant-dying-girl narration is distinctly grating.

Two other quibbles: dying is not a character trait, but it passes for one in Zinnia, who doesn't otherwise have much in the way of personality. And the idea that cell phones would work across universes may be the most fantastical thing I've read in ages, and I read primarily speculative fiction.

But hey, it's short. You may like it better than I did. 2.5 stars, rounded up because I feel bad for being grumpy about something that clearly has the best intentions in mind.
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews54 followers
January 25, 2022
I'm afraid nothing really worked for me from the start. The voice, the tone, the story, the language. I'm probably alone in this, but I don't like a lot of cuss words in my books and this one had more than I was comfortable with, especially for a fairy tale.

It's a short novella with a good portion of the book filled with shadow-image type illustrations. The illustrations were interesting, but odd at times and didn't typically go with the story at-hand. In fact, several of the illustrations had heads falling off their humans.

Many others appear to have really enjoyed this book. But in the end, it wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,929 reviews639 followers
November 26, 2021
2.5⭐I wanted to try something different and this was a novella that was available from my library so I jumped right in. Please read other glowing reviews! 😊
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
366 reviews3,034 followers
August 16, 2021
Alix E. Harrow proves to me in 100 pages she has a masterclass in the art of doing a great deal with very little. A Spindle Splintered is an entertaining and frequently tense portal fantasy adventure, one full of oddball characters and offbeat diversions that made each trek through the world of Sleeping Beauty feel unique and totally worthwhile. Harrow has done a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of this childhood nostalgic story while giving us a massive toolbox of modern elements. A main character with an incurable illness, gay princesses, and cleft chin princes who don't do any of the saving.
Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks
Profile Image for Gillian.
109 reviews127 followers
May 22, 2022
“The heaviest burdens are those you bear alone.”

Zinnia who is turning 21, has a rare condition that causes protein to build up in her lungs. For her 21st birthday Zinnia’s best friend Charm gives her a Sleeping Beauty themed birthday party in a tall tower since Zinnia loves Sleeping Beauty. When Zinnia pricks her finger, she is transported to a different world where she meets another sleeping beauty who is in trouble and wants to escape her fate. Along the way she helps her new friend and tries to escape her own fate.

This book was a beautiful, feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty about love, fate and second chances. I really liked the characters in this short story, especially Zinnia, Charm and Primrose. They each had a unique personality that enhance the beauty of the book. Zinnia is caring, helpful and courageous. Charm is funny, smart and loyal. Primrose is brave, kind. I really appreciated the lesbian representation in this book. I also appreciated that this book brought a new perspective to the story of Sleeping Beauty, it was very refreshing and I enjoyed learning about Zinnia’s story. I loved the author’s voice in this book it was unique and beautiful. I was glad that the author brought up important topics such as sexual identity and illness. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, Disney and Sleeping Beauty retellings.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,092 reviews1,509 followers
October 18, 2021
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow is the first book in the new Fractured Fables which is a fairytale retelling series. This first book of the series is a new twist on Sleeping Beauty. Following the first book the series will move onto other fairy tales but with the same main character making them a series that will best be read in order although this first could be enjoyed as a standalone.

Zinnia Gray is quickly approaching her twenty first birthday and for most that would be a wondrous occasion but for Zinnia it may be her last birthday. Zinnia was diagnosed with a rare condition when she was young due to an industrial accident which lead to a grim prognosis, Zinnia’s days were numbered with no one making it past twenty two.

Zinnia’s best friend, Charm, wants to make Zinnia’s last birthday special and knows of Zinnia’s obsession with Sleeping Beauty. When Zinnia arrives for her last party she finds Charm has hunted down an old spinning wheel and urges Zinnia to prick her finger. Zinnia finds shortly after that she has been transported to another world where another young girl was about to prick her own finger.

No matter how old I get I have always held onto an obsession with fairytale retellings so when I saw A Spindle Splintered I knew I wanted to read it. Getting a copy of this new audiobook I was really excited and as soon as I pressed play I fell into Zinnia’s world and became engaged. I loved Zinnia’s sarcastic nature and her view of the tale right away and couldn’t wait to see how it would unfold. This retelling definitely had it’s own twist which I always love to find and after finishing this first book I’ll definitely be interested to see what the author does with the second book in the series.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,675 followers
February 8, 2022
I don’t think it’s an overstatement at this point to say that I’d lie down in traffic for Alix Harrow. She is such an unbelievable writer and storyteller that she’s joined my shortlist of “buy their books the moment they are rumored to exist” authors.

I can’t say that Sleeping Beauty was one of my favorite fairy tales as a child (mostly because I could only nail one out of the two titular elements), but when Harrow applies her trademark mix of incandescent prose, Vitamix-like wit (it slices, dices, AND purees), metatextual analysis, and social commentary to it, the familiar tale becomes something new, exciting, and revelatory.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
976 reviews491 followers
December 12, 2022

Hay tres cosas que encantan al lector de fantasía!

1. Las portadas!
2. Las ilustraciones.
3. Y los retellings de cuentos donde haya magia, brujas malísimas y un villano dispuesto a salvar a su princesa.

Hasta aquí la verdad universalmente conocida🔥! Después viene lo que no todas sabemos del cuento original de La bella durmiente como, por ejemplo:

1. Ella cae muerta, no dormida como en la versión Disney.
2. Mientras está muerta, un rey la viol... y ella alumbra a dos niños.
3. El rey está casado, con lo que no puede casarse con ella...

Y después está la versión subversiva y feminista de La bella durmiente, de Alix E. Harrow❤️! Una historia de superación, de miedos y de muerte, pero también de amor hacía una misma, de amigas increíbles y de amores únicos😍

DIME: ¿Te atreves a leer esta historia? ¿Serás capaz de resistirte a estas tres verdades, tanto las conocidas como las no tan conocidas reunidas en un único libro pero que muy subversivo?
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
August 24, 2022
There is actually a Goodreads list called Myth and Folktale retellings. Over 500 books where the author has had some fun with a folk story, books like American Gods, Wicked, Grendel, The Outlaws of Sherwood, etc.

Writer Alix E. Harrow has taken mainly the Sleeping Beauty story and made some changes, revisions, amendments, what haves you. And it’s fun. We can also see some other fables mixed in, and the protagonist is a folklore expert, so she knows a thing or two about old spooky tales.

Here we have another story about the multiverse where a dying girl – the same folklorist and … BTW, what a cool title. I’m getting some business cards that says I’m Lyn the attorney, and also I’m a folklorist. Sounds like we’ll also need a tambourine.


Dying folklorist gets drawn into the multiverse where she finds Sleeping Beauty and things in Fantasia have gone a little off the rails. Actually we learn that Disney’s script was never all that accurate.

So a good, modern retelling, not much meat on the bones, but enjoyable and it leaves me with the question – who provides her wireless coverage???? Because this chick had service in fantasyland and I get spotty phone coverage in Bedford County!

Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,306 followers
December 28, 2021
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

I will never ever get bored of fairy tales because my love of reading spurted from these stories. I grew up reading and watching those fairy tales so seeing Harrow deciding to write a series of novellas with retellings of these stories just give me a boost of serotonin.

This is a Sleeping beauty retelling and it starts by explaining how dull the original story is. I have to confess that the protagonist -And the author- make very valid points of the sleeping beauty’s passivity and how it is a sexist story.

Harrow’s writing is great and I felt it was more simplistic than her usual purple prose in her full novels and I think this suits the novella form better. I think the writing is very digestible and goes with the spirit of the story but at the same time, there were good quotes here and there.

The characters are interesting and it is surprisingly a multiverse story trying to combine the different Sleeping beauties stories and putting them under a new perspective and I have to say that I enjoyed this idea as it is creative and smart. I did not know about the different narratives and I liked he twists the author added.

It is kind of predictable but that is not a bad thing at all because it is a retelling so we kind of know where this is going. I did not expect our main protagonist to be the main character in book two as I thought they will be unrelated stories but looks like I am wrong and they are indeed connected.

Summary: I really enjoyed this novella with its creative and fresh look on the sleeping beauty story. The writing is simple and the story is fast paced. I love fairy tale stories and this was no different, I am definitely continuing the series!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
November 25, 2021
Are you up for a feminist, subversive retelling of Sleeping Beauty ? I’m all in for Alix Harrow's A Spindle Splintered .

Sleeping Beauty is pretty much the worst fairy tale, any way you slice it. It’s aimless and amoral and chauvinist as shit.”⁣

Zinnia Gray is turning 21. She’s dying of something called General Roseville Malady, a disease about which little is known except that no one has lived past the age of 21. Zinnia has always been obsessed with fairy tales and, because of her illness, was able to graduate high school early and attend college, where she studied in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology.⁣

For what is expected to be her last birthday, her best friend Charm goes all out, throwing her a Sleeping Beauty -themed party in an abandoned tower, complete with spinning wheel. Of course, Zinnia pricks her finger, but instead of falling asleep (or dying), she finds herself in another world, a modern traveler in a fairy tale kingdom of sorts, where another cursed princess is in need of her help.⁣

This was so freaking creative, fun, poignant, and beautifully done. I love retellings and this one really just hooked me completely. My understanding is that this is the start of a series of novellas Harrow will write and I’m here for them.⁣

This is a definite Bookstagram made me do it (or more specifically, my friend Deedi made me do it), and I’m so grateful!!⁣

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for ~ a foray in fantasy ~.
269 reviews258 followers
November 11, 2021
“Well, Harold,” I say, “they’re lesbians.”

Creative but weird is the best way to describe this book.

This book was interesting and I bet the pop culture references are going to be so difficult to understand in a decade— luckily I understand all of them now.

It was a bit too short, and a touch too weird. I do love the fairytale history. The different iterations of Sleeping Beauty were so interesting— I hadn’t heard of half of them.

Zinnia was an okay character, but not my favorite.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,129 reviews607 followers
June 1, 2022
Zinnia Gray was born with a genetic disease that kills most people before they reach 21. She has always known she will die and as a child became obsessed with the tale of Sleeping Beauty, a dying girl, waiting to be woken by a kiss from a charming prince. On her 21st birthday Zinnia’s best friend Charmaine (Charm for short) throws her a Sleeping Beauty themed birthday party in an abandoned tower complete with a spinning wheel. When she pricks her finger on the spindle, she finds herself face to face with a fairytale princess in a tower, needing to be rescued.

Alix E. Harrow has a lot of fun with this fractured, subversive fairytale. Zinnia’s modern sensibilities, sarcastic asides and feminist views are woven into the fairytale tropes as she takes on a wicked witch, a handsome prince and other fairytale characters . A short novella that was a pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,978 reviews3,296 followers
August 15, 2021
Sleeping Beauty meets the multiverse in this feminist retelling! I really loved A Spindle Splintered. It's smart, funny, and offers a modern perspective on the changing mythologies of Sleeping Beauty.

Zinnia is turning 21 and with only weeks to live due to a chronic disease she's lived with since childhood. She's always loved Sleeping Beauty and her friend throws her a themed birthday party, but the spindle slips her into another world where other versions of the same tale exist.

This novella offers a subversive look at this story that has often been about female subjugation and passivity, even abuse of the titular character depending on the version. It's about taking back control of your own narrative, getting out of assumed heteronormativity, and the importance of sisterhood and fighting for other women. Given that the main character suffers from a chronic, life-threatening disease I was wondering if this would include a magical "cure". There has been discourse on how harmful that trope can be. I won't spoil what happens, but I think the author does a good job of deconstructing the magical cure trope in an interesting and empowering way. Definitely would recommend checking this one out! I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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