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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 March 2003
Even though I may be a little older than the target audience, I have always enjoyed RM's storycraft. This book is an honourable addition to a fine collection of stories. The characters are drawn with considerable insight and observation into the way in which real people might react in the unreal situations portrayed, with a good deal of humour in the process. I also liked the descriptions of the cat, Flinx - surely RM is a cat owner?
The story is essentially that of Sleeping Beauty but with many a twist to make it both interesting and relevant to today. The princess, her young foster-mother, and her aunt-by-adoption are all girls and women for whom it is possible to feel real liking. The male characters are also sympathetically drawn and one can see why particular partners get together rather than feeling that they have been joined just for the sake of a particular development in the plot. The magical bits are perhaps a little similar in concept to The Hero and the Crown, but not to the extent that one feels it's just a repeat.
All in all, a very enjoyable and oddly comforting read.
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on 7 January 2015
I love all things fairy tale, and Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourites, so I had to give it a read.
The first half is more enjoyable than the second; I feel it drags on and loses it's way a bit.
The main character at the start of the book becomes much less of a focal point by the end if the book, which is a shame after you've invested so much time in her!
The resolution of the book is very convoluted, as if the author wasn't really sure how to finish the story.
I think overall, if you are already a fan of fairy takes, I would say give it ago. It is very enjoyable in places, but it can be a bit if a slog to get through!
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on 15 July 2009
This is my third exploration of Robin Mckinley's work (my first two being Beauty and Rose Daughter) and i was, as usual, impressed by her ability to create truly vivid scenes. Obviously it is a re-telling and therefore one might question her originality, but the plot is so developed that the recycled material doesn't really affect your reading of it.

The heroines are likeable, and all romantic plotlines tie up rather nicely. One of the latter does seem a tad contrived, but at least it ties in with the original idea of the fairy tale. Mckinley's prose, as always, has moments in which it truly shines.

The last quarter of the book is truly packed with action and information, and I am torn between judging it as compellingly written (you really feel that you are in the centre of the action; it's almost as though everything is rushing past you) and condemning it as being too confusing; the magical details do tend to be slightly overpowering.

Overall, if you're looking for a light fantasy read then this is the place to go; i give it 4/5 stars due to its ability to keep me reading until 3:30am (few books are ineresting enough to do so). If you have enjoyed McKinley's work in the past then i heartily recommend, and it should appeal to any adult or child who loves fairytales. However, if you prefer clear-cut, unfussy prose with little description, or if you feel that originality is a key componant to enjoying a book, then this may be one to avoid.
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on 9 March 2014
Well written, but not an easy book to read. Couldn't really engage with the book as it always felt like words were used for their presence rather than their worth to the story. The author writes good high fantasy just felt this one was pitched at the wrong audience.
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on 27 January 2016
A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, ‘Spindles End’ is an odd book in many respects. Written in a voice that is all narrative it took me awhile to get into, however even though it was heavily descriptive with very little dialogue I thought it had the perfect fairytale ring to it – So much so that I could picture myself sitting around a fire having someone read this book to me rather than actually reading it myself (Those who’ve read it will understand what I mean).

Also ‘Spindles End’ doesn’t really have a main character. Written into five parts it sort of follows the life of one character until about halfway through the book until Rosie is old enough to take over, from which point the story starts truly being about her. While some people may find this a little disjointed and I thought it worked rather well, giving plenty of back-story and allowing the underlying tension to build up slowly.

However that leads me to the writing style itself. As I mentioned earlier the story is heavily descriptive and honestly, at times incredibly random. For instance several pages could be devoted describing the customs of magic or the speech of animals and birds, or as in the opening chapters – the magic dust that gathers in tea pots. While interesting to read these pages don’t really progress the story any further and makes the book unravel at a very slow pace. (However as I discovered – this makes it perfect for long train journeys)

Yet I really liked how Mckinley used aspects of the original fairytale throughout the story, shaping and twisting them into her own moulds to create a more compelling read that kept me engrossed for hours. With lots of unexpected plot twists and again – much randomness – ‘Spindles End’ created a vivid magical world full of unique characters who were always doing the unexpected.

All of which led up to an ending that I never saw coming – at least not in the way I imagined – and closing the book I was left with that nice, satisfied feeling that always comes after finishing a good story. I must comment though that due to the heavy text and descriptions I don’t think that this book would be for everyone yet if you love unique retellings of fairytales, massive amounts of world building and much randomness that doesn’t always make sense (but is fun to try and work out), or are just wanting to read something a little different then this is a book for you.

Magical, old-worldly and all sorts of other things in-between, ‘Spindles End’ is a bed-time-story perfect for people of all ages and I’m looking forward to reading other works by Robin Mckinley, she is a truly talented author :)
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on 1 August 2002
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!
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on 20 August 2011
A good take on the sleeping beauty fairy tale, the story felt fresh, I would recommend this book for a light read. Rose is not your usuall princess and sticks to her opinions, there is also a nice twist at the end
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on 4 May 2015
Retelling of Sleeping beauty which starts with a witch stealing the baby princess and trekking across the country with her for weeks, with the help of local foxes and other animals. HOW AMAZING!!! The love interest is totally unexpected too, and it’s all just a complete party of cool female characters, even the pretty pink ones. The princess is a tomboy who communes with wildlife and hangs out with the blacksmith. Perfect
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on 2 November 2015
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I love fairy tales but Sleeping beauty has always bothered me, as her character was so passive. Robin McKinley put a stop to all that. She's written characters that live, breathe, have lives worth living, and the princess is about as interesting as any princess I've ever wanted to meet. Thank you, Robin!
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on 21 March 2013
This book is beautifully crafted. From the refreshing take on a fairy godmother to the sparkling descriptions of an Oz-esque world, Robin McKinley shines as a writer of modern fairy tales. It takes the traditional story, and its strictures of Fate and Destiny and turns them upside down, all the while maintaining the romance, tenderness and excitement of the original. Perfect for a young and old readers alike, but particularly touching for girls of any age who are questioning how much Disney's perfect princesses really relate to them.
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