Book Review: The Sleeper & The Spindle by Neil Gaiman

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A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.


“She cursed the babe at birth, such that when the girl was eighteen she would prick her finger and sleep forever.”

This isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. Yes it was a short fairy tale retelling and yes it was decent, it just didn’t go in the direction I wanted it to. I am a fan of Gaiman’s writing so this wasn’t as bad as it could have ended up being.


The story has some very unique twists on the fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty AND Snow White, that were pretty enjoyable. Everyone likes a good twist don’t they? And Gaiman’s twist is no exception, it was quite good but it did lack a little in my opinion. Once the big twist is revealed the story quit being interesting, it depended too much on it.

I’ll also say this ISN’T the lesbian retelling everyone (myself included) was expecting and wanting, which is ultimately a little disappointing but it definitely didn’t ruin anything for me.


This story is only 72 pages so it’s very, VERY short and therefore lacked any sort of complex plot or characters.

Although I will say I adored the Queen who is the main protagonist of this short little fairy tale. Instead of being given a cliched Prince to go save the Princess we get a Queen, a very capable queen.

The villain of the story was actually very run of the mill, all she wanted was youth and power. We’ve heard that a million times haven’t we? Yes we have.

Then we have the princess in need of saving, our Sleeping Beauty. She isn’t in the story really that much to even discuss.

The three dwarves were pretty great also, they’re the supporting characters. They help out the queen and that’s about it. They provided a little bit of comic relief as well and I’m also a fan of the comic relief.

Those Beautiful Illustrations:

Chris Riddell does some fantastic illustrations for this book, and I was unlucky enough to have read this book in Kindle format. I didn’t get to truly appreciate how gorgeous they were in the hardcover copy. Oh well life isn’t fair.

The illustrations depict everything happening in the story every step of the way, I actually relied on them more than the words. Don’t judge me, you would too if you read this with the pretty pictures.

in conclusion

I like Gaiman’s writing style therefore I did enjoy the book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Nothing game changing here. It was enjoyable enough though, and with illustrations like those it made it hard for me to be TOO disappointed.


Hard to say. If you’re a Gaiman fan then I’d recommend at least reading it, I don’t know if I can really recommend buying it though since it is so short. If you’re a fan of Riddell or books with really great illustrations then I definitely recommend reading it.

However, if you’re expecting a really great retelling with all sorts of unique twists then I’d say pass this one up. Yes there is a twist in this one but it won’t be enough for fans of retellings I wouldn’t think.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy