September 23, 2011

I Liked it Even Without Prince Philip: A Review of Robin McKinley's Spindle's End

When I was little my favorite Disney movie was Sleeping Beauty. It was later supplanted by Beauty and the Beast, because a bookworm became a princess! I was awestruck.

But I've still always loved Sleeping Beauty. It has fantastic music, funny fairies, and a dreamy prince. Because let's face it, the prince in Beauty and the Beast? Downright girly.

So when recently a friend told me that not only had Robin McKinley retold the story of Beauty and the Beast in Beauty, which I read and loved in middle school, but had also written new versions of several other fairy tales, including Sleeping Beauty, I knew I had to give it a shot.

The retelling of Sleeping Beauty is called Spindle's End, and it's a quick and magical read that I greatly enjoyed. The story begins in a kingdom full of magic, a land where fairies must scour the magic out of teakettles so that ordinary people can use them. This kingdom's rulers had been childless for many years, but finally the Queen delivered a baby girl, and one person from every village in the kingdom was invited to her name day.

Alas, not only well-wishers arrived at the name day, but also an ancient and evil fairy named Pernicia who had sworn vengeance on the first female to be born into the kingly line. She cast a spell on the tiny princess, and threw the nameday into disarray. A young woman named Katriona, the lucky winner of a pass to the name day from a village all the way across the country, instinctively tried to protect the baby, and managed to deflect some of the spell.

The Queen's fairy-in-waiting gives Katriona the baby and tells her to leave quickly, and hide the baby until she is 21 and the deadline for the spell has passed. Katriona sneaks the baby home, and her aunt, a powerful fairy, takes the baby in. Aunt and Katriona manage to hide the princess's real identity from everyone. They call her Rosie, and little Rosie grows up to be a tomboy, more comfortable with horses and dogs than humans.

She has no idea of her true heritage for years, but then someone from her royal past enters her life dramatically. Aunt and Katriona will do their best to protect Rosie, but even they aren't sure if their magic will be enough to stop Pernicia...

Have you ever read any retellings of fairy tales? 
Who do you think is the best looking Disney prince? 

Full disclosure: the cover images/title links are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase the books I will earn a small referral fee.