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Reading Log: Spindle's End by Robin McKinley


As far as I'm concerned, Robin McKinley's Blue Sword is the best book she's written, and one of the best I've ever read. I love everything about it, from the world, to the magic, to the myths. I enjoy The Hero and the Crown nearly as much, nor have I liked subsequent novels as well. I believe I've read Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast and The Outlaws of Sherwood, though I thought I had also read Spindle's End, which I clearly had not.

At any rate, Spindle's End has come the closest yet to returning me to the enjoyment I had with Blue Sword. Katriona, a young not-yet-fairy attends the princess's naming day. As the traditional Sleeping Beauty story has it, the fairy godmothers bestow their gifts upon the baby, until the evil fairy shows up with her curse. After that point, the story becomes completely one of McKinley's own, as Katriona is charged by the Queen's fairy to take the princess into hiding and keep her safe.

The majority of the novel is the story of Rosie growing up not knowing that she's the missing princess, and Katriona and Aunt's efforts to keep the secret safe. It's a world of magic dust and fairies in disguise, Rosie talking to animals and wild baby-magic. The climax comes just before the princess's 21st birthday, when the curse will either be proven ineffective, or cause the princess to prick her finger on the spindle and die. I will pretty much stop there, because the ending is so completely unexpected and I don't want to give too much away.

One of the reasons I wanted to read this one is because Becka told me there's a dog in it that reminds her of Remy. Here is the passage in question:

"Sunflower began to bark and leap, rushing back and forth in front of her companions, wagging her tail feverishly, sometimes curlying herslef up into a circle and spinning round and round in place, uttering little cries, half whimper, half yelp, which was all what she did any time there were visitors..." [then the fairy Sunflower is with creates the illusion of multiple Sunflowers to deal with the human-like enemy] "The Sunflowers leaped on the things, strking them in what might have been their groins and their stomachs. The ones she knocked down immediately she began to lick furiously, especially around the face regions; and convincing-looking arms rose up to try to fen her off. But she was an old hand at this game, and she knew how not to be fended."

I don't know why anyone would ever think that my little Remy would behave in such a manner....except for the licking and the whimpering and the jumping and the litte cries and the knowing how not to be fended.... :-)

I've also recently read Sunshine , which is a complete departure for McKinley; I liked this book a lot as well, but that's probably as much because of the subject matter and story of the book as anything. But now that I've read and enjoyed another one, I might have to go back and reread some of the ones I had previously rejected; maybe I was still too close to Blue Sword to appreciate her other novels when I initially read them.