Once upon a time… no perhaps this isn’t that sort of fairytale. Perhaps this is something different.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer
Synopsis From The Book
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes with a single drop of Aurora’s blood–and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken. As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen. Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls: and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
A book about Sleeping Beauty, from what I can tell. In truth, I’m hesitant to read this right now, without the sequel with me. Especially when I know the sequel is right there published. Whatever, I suppose it’ll get me to read it at some point since I have the first. What even is life, if you don’t have an ever growing list of books to read?
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
At first, I did not care. However as I continued to read about Aurora and the world of the dreams and Isabel and how she was trying to save her sister, I fell for them both. Their story to find each other is just so powerful I adore it. I knew it would be bad for me to read this without the second book. How I could feel it coming and I still let myself fall for it. How horrible.
Aurora and Isabelle are half sisters. Aurora is the true born child of the king and queen, while Isabel is bastard born. The two grew up together, without parents who died when they were very young. Aurora is without a voice and without her sense of touch and Isabelle can not see. The two created a life, a language, a world surrounding the two of them that is empty without the other.
Aurora is to be wed when she is 16, but upon the mysterious deaths of her betrothed and his brother, she is separated from her sister. Aurora is to wait for the third prince while Isabelle is to be sent away from the castle. (Isabelle has always been a thorn in the castle’s side). This is where their stories divulge. Aurora watches as her sister runs away and distraught tries to chase after her only to end up in a cabin. She pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and is sent into a deep sleep.
Isabelle runs away with her best friend Gilbert. It is a while after she has left that she hears of the sleeping sickness of the palace. The princess fell asleep and all who came in contact with her have fallen into slumber as well. Isabelle resolves to save her. This leads her and Gil to a fae called Blink, in hopes to discover the magic that was placed upon her sister.
Blink reveals the story of Aurora, and her tithing. She was given gifts for her voice and for her sense of touch, and before the third fae could take one more the evil fae Queen appeared. This Queen cursed Aurora to die upon turning sixteen. The last fae resolved the curse by making it a sleep instead, and took the sight of Isabelle. Only true love could wake Aurora.
Isabelle and Gil take this story to go search for the third prince, after all he must be Aurora’s true love. The two get separated at sea, and Isabelle ends up finding prince William. She and Prince William travel back to the castle, falling for each other in the process. When Prince William can not wake her, Isabelle cries and kisses her sister goodbye.
Meanwhile, Aurora is a dream world created by the evil Fae Queen’s twin sister. This world is a mess of illusions and memories, with inhabitants who struggle to survive and don’t believe in the real world. Aurora is determined to find out the truth of why she was put to sleep and how to break it. In the process her voice and touch are given back to her and in the extremes of being able to feel for the first time, Aurora falls into lust with a boy from this world. Aurora discovers many truths of this trapped fae queen, resulting in the burning of this world (in the queen’s anguish). Aurora is about to die when she wakes up.
Isabelle’s kiss woke her.
What I Liked:
Isabelle and Aurora’s relationship; This relationship is the focus of the book foremost and certainly. The two love each other and would die for each other. Their worlds are each other and they need each other. This is the sort of sibling relationship I know some scoff at. How could anyone be this dedicated, however it is this dedication that makes the story possible. I need to see how this evolves after both of their respective journeys.
Isabelle; She is strong willed and haphazard. She will do what she wants, how she wants it, regardless of consequence. Her other senses are sharpened like a knife and she has always been there for her sister. Even with the two boys she likes, she is constantly pushing forward. She regrets what she has done in the past but instead of dwelling on it, she moves to make sure it never happens again.
Aurora; She is the kind, gentle, beautiful sister. Like a dove in a cage, she has grown up doing everything others told her to, outside of helping her sister and loving her sister. She resolved herself to the damsel in distress, but upon being thrust into the dream world she changes. Her sense of touch and voice empower her, making her realize (even if only be the slightest) that her parents had taken her sense from her for their benefit, not hers. She becomes anything but a damsel, working to break the dream and save the Queen. She is going to get back home, even if no one is going to help her. What starts off as her trying to prove herself to someone else, ends as her trying to prove herself to herself.
Twist on the Traditional Myth; The tale of sleeping beauty is one that is often told and retold. What I liked about this variant is that we take magic and twist it with real Fae tithing magic. That for everything Aurora gained she lost something in return. I like how Prince Philip is killed early on. I like how the true love is true love of family. I like how Aurora learns not to be a damsel. I like how the other fae are told and portrayed (those who give her, her gifts). It is lovely.
The Fae Queens; Malfleur (the evil queen) and Belcoeur. Their story is an interesting one, of two sisters. One who was hated, the other loved. The loved one always trying to love the hated one fiercely. I can’t wait to see more of this, and to learn more about them. They are the foils to Isabelle and Aurora.
Parallels between the Fae Queens and Isabelle and Aurora; I hope that Isabelle and Aurora learn from the Fae Queen’s mistakes, and that Prince William does not end up in the cross fire.
The way you discover the truth; Through this story, you learn many variants of the story, of who caused the sleeping sickness, of why it spread, all from different perspectives. The viewer pieces it together but the girls only get bits and pieces. How they jump to conclusions from what they learn is so fascinating. Goes to show you how much you don’t know when you don’t have all the parts.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
The boys; While I do like them, I wish I had more on them. We get so much on all the girls, the fae queens, the other fae, and the two princesses, that there isn’t much more space for the boys outside of what we know already. In many ways this is great, but in others, I want to know why the girls like these boys so much.
Time Taken To Read
Oh I want to make this a five so bad, but I can’t.
“Light too can be a curse. It can illuminate things no one should ever have to witness.” – From Isabelle’s POV pg 6
“Gifts come at a cost, but curses come for free.” — Queen Malfleur
“Because we’re all stumbling through darkness, really. None of us knows where we’re heading. Not in the bigger picture anyway.” – Isabelle, pg 212