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Spindle's End


3.81  ·  Rating details ·  21,875 ratings  ·  1,382 reviews
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 spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her.
Mass Market Paperback, 354 pages
Published June 5th 2001 by Ace Books (first published May 22nd 2000)
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Amelia It's part of the world building. Things that stay firmly on the ground are not prone to the whims of wild magic. E.g. rocks aren't often turned into o…moreIt's part of the world building. Things that stay firmly on the ground are not prone to the whims of wild magic. E.g. rocks aren't often turned into other things and when they are, you usually still sense the rock underneath. Things that are sometimes on the ground but move e.g. people, land based animals are more prone to magic. Animals that fly are more prone still. Animals that swim are so prone that they've become a kind of taboo.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Spindle’s End is long and leisurely-paced, but I found it an absorbing retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, with fascinating details and appealing animals (Robin McKinley excels at both of those things) and a few major twists to the classic story. I enjoyed it enough to reread it at least two or three times in the last 20 years since it was published in 2000.

Spindle’s End starts out much like the traditional fairy tale: An evil fairy, Pern
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 06, 2011 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
Moira Russell
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 31, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Melissa Rudder
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Those who have struggled with McKinley's writing style and penchant for tangents in the past will probably not get on with this book, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it. It's slow -- as most of her books are -- and occasionally convoluted -- as most of her books are -- but it felt... homey. Cozy.

Full review (maybe) to come.
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren James
A retelling of Sleeping Beauty that I've read approximately 50 times since I was a kid. So feminist and witchy and unexpected. As an adult and writer, I now have some qualms with the pacing and narrative style, but the characters are so important to me that I can forgive all concerns.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have no idea how to review this book. I started out enthralled with it and Robin McKinley’s beautiful writing.
My progress got slower and slower till I finally stopped at chapter 21, nearly at the end.
I feel awful not finishing it but it just lost allll interest in this book. I feel like it’s at a more rambling, sleepy pace than it was at the beginning and the characters it focuses on now are much less interesting (to me) than the ones at the beginning.
#Did not finish because I’m too busy ri
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Robin McKinley does a lot of fairy tale retellings, though with Spindle’s End she’s branching out a bit and doing a retelling of something other than Beauty and the Beast (which she’s done at least 3). The thing about fairy tale retellings is that either it’s different enough to lose that comforting familiarity, or else it’s not different enough and it’s perfectly predictable. Spindle’s End manages to split that difference perfectly: I never lost track of the fact that I was reading a retelling ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: done, 2017, ya, fantasy
Very good variant of Rumpelstiltskin, in which a fairy accidentally absconds with the princess after she's cursed. The princess is raised with no idea who she really is. I stayed up too late reading this one. :)
belle ✨
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.75 STARS!!

I finished this a couple days ago and I'm STILL thinking of it. I can't even describe how absolutely gorgeous the world-building and magic system in Spindle's End is. The whole book I felt like I was sinking into a soft cloud, or maybe wandering through magical forest with cozy cottages sprinkled throughout.


The writing is "flowery," (sometimes abundantly so) so if you're not a fan of descriptions, this might not be the book for you. But the writing and details of everything are SO P
Shauna Hruby
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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
A warm, fluffy blanket of a book in which the tiny bit of conflict seems almost superfluous. The only surprise was how relentlessly heterosexual it managed to be despite a climax that involves two women kissing each other.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 and
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: would-read-again
Saving the world by talking to animals and with the power of female friendship <3 ...more
☼ Sarah ☼
4.5 stars!

Spindle's End is my fourth Robin McKinley novel (and my new second favourite after the wonderful Deerskin), and I've come to love the quirks of her writing. She tends to write books sparse in dialogue but rich in description, world-building, and character-studying; rather than snappily zipping from action scene to action scene, her narratives slowly unfold to introduce you to their world and often go off on tangents, explaining this or that. This, I think, is what puts some would-be re
zane deann
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
That took ages to read. It wasn't terrible, it just could have been so much better. It was dense with words upon words and I thought I would never be done with it. It was just what I needed for a while: a nice, slow book to read in my spare moments, but by the end I was sick of it. So, 2.5 stars.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
This book was one of the most delightful and charming things I have ever read. Y'all know I love me some Robin McKinley, and I love me some modern fairy tale retellings even more! The combination here leads to to a version of the Sleeping Beauty story that is simultaneously more interesting and more feminist in the original. For one thing, the princess saves herself in this one. And unlike the Disney version, she doesn't spend 80% of the story fucking asleep.

From the very first page, McKinley we
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I was recommended this after bemoaning the lack of female friendships in literature and, really, I'm so happy so thank you for the rec Kiersten! :)

So first, this is a retelling of... Sleeping Beauty (Yes, I just googled that, I am soo put together right now). The story begins before the princess's birth and follows her life up until the days when the curse is supposed to take effect. There is a lot of things set-up in the beginning slated for her 18th birthday, which makes the wait nerve-wreckin
I really like all the world-building in this. There's such a lot of it, right from the first few pages. The problem with it is that there's too much of it -- it's very vivid, but it weighs down the story. The story of Sleeping Beauty is usually fairly unadorned, and the elements of the original story seemed bogged down in all this detail.

It's delightful to read, in some ways, but it did take me a long time to finish reading, and it didn't grip me or become compulsive. I loved the tongue-in-chee
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Basic Plot: 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.
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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

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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