Having waited excitedly (and for too long) for the next book from Robin McKinley, I read Spindle's End the day it arrived. Having given myself a severe headache in doing so (due to the involved nature of the plot) I am torn between recommendation and reservation. As I expected, it is very difficult to put down, but it is also difficult to read. The characters do not draw you in the way Aerin, Harimad and Beauty (the first one!) do with their doubts, flaws and normality. Rosie is flawed, but a little two-dimensional. The curse hanging over her is never fully explained (although in fairness the original fairy tale was illogical also) and despite showing McKinley's usual flashes of brilliance, I did not feel this was sustained throughout the story. No real tension is created by the evil fairy - Maur was a much more awe-inspiring and well-drawn foe, and yet Rosie's surroundings are so beautifully evoked, and the people who love her so nicely characterised that I still recommend you read it. I cried my eyes out at the end when all the threads are finally spun together (in a quite unexpected fashion), which proves what a consummate storyteller Robin McKinley is - even when you have your doubts about her tale, she can still tug at your heart! If a litle more thought had been given to the detail, and and she had been less obsessed with brackets (an annoying but addictive habit!)to explain all the details that had been missed out I would have given this book five stars. But four by McKinley's standard is about 13 by anyone else's, so read it, enjoy it, and keep campaigning for another tale about Aerin!