• NZ Booklovers

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell

A cursed sleep is moving across the fairytale land, while a Princess sleeps unreachable at its center. Many have tried to save her before, and all have failed. A faraway Queen seeks to break the curse before it reaches her people – but of course, all is not as it seems…

At first glance this could be the plot of any fairytale, though there is one obvious difference from the traditional stories: there are no princes here. They simply aren’t needed. And this isn’t just yet another Grimm (or even Disney) retelling, but rather the latest collaboration between master storytellers Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell.

The fairytale-with-a-twist is not a new concept. Reworkings of old stories are clearly popular, from the excellent Fables comics, to the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm, not to mention the more recent Hollywood offerings such as Maleficent and Into The Woods. Despite the plethora of other offerings, The Sleeper and the Spindle really is a tale worth investing in. There is twist upon twist, a hint of true fairytale darkness and a long-awaited and very much-discussed (online at least) kiss. Even without the story this book is lovely – translucent hardcover, with lavish, gilded illustrations throughout, including illuminated letters and double-page spreads redrawing quotes from the neighboring text.

I have to admit a bias here (is it obvious?) as Chris Riddell is possibly my favourite illustrator, ever. I have been fascinated by his distinctive, stunning illustrations since I first stumbled across the excellent Edge Chronicles as a child. His ink-sketched characters bring any words to life, and though Neil Gaiman’s words are so skillful they never really need illustration, Gaiman and Riddell are a match made in heaven – or, more likely, one of the fantastical worlds these creative geniuses inhabit.

REVIEWER: Arielle Walker

TITLE: The Sleeper and the Spindle

AUTHOR(S): Neil Gaiman

ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Riddell