Author: Alix Harrow
Narrator: Amy Landon
Audiobook Length: 3 hours 20 minutes
“Sleeping Beauty is the worst fairy tale, pretty much any way you slice it. It’s aimless and amoral and chauvinist as shit. Even among the other nerds who majored in folklore, Sleeping Beauty is nobody’s favorite. The romantic girls like Beauty and the Beast; basic girls like Cinderella; goth girls like Snow White. Only the dying girls like Sleeping Beauty.”
It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is an extra-special occasion, because it’s the last she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, but the main fact for Zinnia is that no one who has it has lived to twenty-two.
Her best friend is intent on making Zin’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, she founds herself cast into another world, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.
A Spindle Splintered is the first novella in the Fractured Fables series. Similar to almost every other novella out there, this one will make you wish it was turned into a full-length novel. Even though I wanted more, the story itself is satisfying, although it does have a slight cliffhanger and leaves room for the sequel. While I believe there is a sequel in the works, I am not sure if it will continue with the same characters or this will be a central theme-type series. This novel sets out to give a whole new spin on Sleeping Beauty and even points out that some versions, such as the Disney movie, need some improvement.
Zinnia Gray lives in Ohio and loves Sleeping Beauty, especially as she connects to the character. Zinnia has a terminal condition, which means that she does not have long to live, although she is about to make a huge accomplishment at turning 21. She knows her time is near as it is unheard of for those with her condition to live past 22. As a special celebration for her birthday, her best friend, Charm, throws a Sleeping Beauty party complete with a spinning wheel. As a joke, Zinnia pricks her finger and is unexpectedly transported to the Sleeping Beauty story, completely with its own Princess Primrose. Due to Zinnia’s travels, Primrose never pricked her own finger to fall asleep for the prince to rescue her. Now the two must come together to fix both of their fates.
With this being a novella, I was pleasantly surprised by the growth that Zinnia goes though. While she has a terminal medical condition, she seeks adventure, but knows there are limitations. She lives by the rules that she created herself and has a complicated relationship with her parents and her own wishes. It was captivating to read her inner thoughts and see how her inner thoughts dictate her actions. I also love that Charm is by her side whether on page or off as an amazing support system. The story not only follows Zinnia, but also explores Primrose now that she realizes there are more options than the traditional fairy tale format.
Overall, this may not have been my first Sleeping Beauty retelling, but it was definitely well done. There are nice twists and turns within a familiar world. There is not a lot of world-building in this story due to its length, so it relies on the reader to picture Zennia’s hometown and the Sleeping Beauty universe with some specifics, such as the towers, mixed in. There is some romance in this story, but it is not the main feature. Instead, the focus remains on the characters embracing their own futures. It’s a fun and easy novella that can be completed in less than a day, so it’s a nice transition novel between my other readings. As this one was a delight, I will have to keep a look out for the next novella to become available!