The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

It has been a while since I have published any reviews here, largely I think because I haven’t been reading too much. However, recently my brother decided to give a friend of his this book as a present, and let me read through it first. It took me about an hour, and it was well worth the time. This may be partly because I am a big fan of both Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell, so frankly the combination of their work was always going to appeal to me.

The Sleeper and the Spindle is, firstly, beautiful. I have long been a fan of Chris Riddell’s work, having read The Edge Chronicles, a series illustrated by him, when I was quite young. I even got to meet him, and he drew me a picture of a troll-thing! It was very exciting.

This book takes full advantage of Chris Riddell’s beautiful illustrations, using them as borders as well as pictures, and shaping the text and pictures around each other. The illustrations are also, occasionally, filled in with gold, making the entire thing a feast for the eyes.

I don’t want to say too much about the story itself, for fear of giving too much away – it is, after all, a short story. I shall just set the scene: the Queen is about to be married when she receives a visit from her old friends, three dwarfs who have come from beneath the mountains. They tell her about a plague that is sweeping across the land, causing all who encounter it to fall asleep. The Queen, who has once slept for a year and is thus more immune to such a plague, elects to journey to the centre of this disease – a castle, where a girl lies sleeping who may only be awoken by a kiss.

If you enjoy fairy tales with interesting and satisfying twists, this book is almost certainly the book you are looking for.

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