Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

Everyone knows the story.  A royal couple, after years of longing, have a beautiful baby girl.  All their subjects and the fairies and woodland creatures come to celebrate the birth.  But one evil fairy, miffed that her invitation didn't come, storms the party and curses the baby to prick her finger and fall asleep forever.

In this imaginative retelling, Robin McKinley gives an alternative story.  When the evil fairy, Pernicia, casts her spell, a fairy named Katriona is there.  She won the lottery in her distant, small village to come to the name day of the new infant.  She takes the baby in that moment of the curse and returns with it to her village.  The trip takes weeks and the two are helped along their journey by the wild animals they encounter; the female badgers and rabbits and foxes providing the milk a baby must have.

The baby, Briar-Rose, is raised by Kat and her mother.  They give a story about it being the baby of a distant cousin who needs a home.  Rosie grows up in the village with no idea about the royal blood she carries in her veins.  Instead, she becomes a horse vet as she has the ability to talk with all the animals she encounters.  It's a good life, surrounded by love and joy but has the ruse worked?  Will Rosie escape the curse laid on the babe twenty-one years ago?

This is a joyful book, full of spells and coincidences that turn out to push the story along.  Rosie is no wilting sheltered princess.  Instead she is a woman who knows her own mind and knows how to fight when it is needed.  Robin McKinley has written several fairy tale retelling novels.  She has won the Newberry Award for young adult fiction along with other awards.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

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