Title: A Spindle Splintered
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Genre: Fantasy Novella
Number of Pages: 128
In a novella that the author calls an attempt to ‘Spider-Verse a fairy tale,’ a terminally ill young woman finds herself in an alternate reality that seems to follow the story of Sleeping Beauty. Zinnia is a bisexual twenty-one-year-old with an awesome best friend and loving, if overbearing parents.
She also has a severe illness caused by an industrial accident and isn’t expected to live past her next birthday. Zinnia identifies with Sleeping Beauty even though she concedes that it’s the most sexist fairy tale, and her friend Charm creates a thematic celebration for her birthday, complete with a spindle.
But when Zinnia travels to a fantastic world and meets a real princess cursed by a witch and roped into an unwanted marriage, Zinna has to use her wits and bravery to save them both. This book was fun and made me eager to read the next installment in the series. Even though it was very short (less than 150 pages) I thought the characters were fairly well-developed.
At first I was hesitant because I looked at the beginning and saw that the character was going on about how misogynist Sleeping Beauty is. I’m not Sleeping Beauty‘s biggest fan by any means, but I was a little bit afraid this was going to be one of those didactic social justice-y books.
To my relief, it wasn’t. It was definitely feminist but in a fun and empowering way, not just hitting you over the head with current issues. The queer element wasn’t heavy-handed either and was just a natural part of the characters. I can definitely think of worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your time than with this book.