June 15, 2009

Review -- Robin McKinley's "Spindle's End"

Hi! I'm excited and bit overwhelmed to be presenting my first review for SFT. I was lucky to get the chance to read a good book to start, with one of my favorite fairy tale stories--Sleeping Beauty. McKinley moves this tale from a simple triumphal march from baby to princess into a dense tale of the royal politics and motherhood and growing into your own abilities and strengths. While parts of the story seemed more sketched in, the familial elements were clearly and beautifully drawn.

This is a thick brew, with magic as the flour that brings the entire mix together, across generations and story lines. Humor provides a piquant spice, a peppery burst of laughter in the midst of the tale. It is the ending, however, that proves a good story, like a good roux, and this ending seemed to extend a little long for my taste. Although the story was pleasant, I found myself tangled in who the story was about--was it the princess? The residents of the Gig where the princess hides? McKinley’s choice to make Sleeping Beauty a modern 21 years old prior to her inheritance means that the story continues for twenty-one years, through marriage and children (for other characters). The threat of the wicked fairy is sufficiently removed as to be a fairy tale itself until the very end of the book when she returns and the conflict crashes into a grandiose scheme for a country’s destabilization through the death of a princess. The clear line--this story concerns this person and her choices--is blurred throughout the book, which in my opinion weakens it. When the story lines begin to resolve, they run in several different directions, tying up ends in opposite directions.

One interesting aspect of the story is the conflict between the mother who bears a child and the mother who raises her, the conflict between who you are born to be and who you become. I enjoyed the story and was glad to have spent time in McKinley's deep and believable created world.

-- Chrissa

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