Entertainment

Book review: 'Sleeping Beauty' retelling focuses on sisterly bonds, magical fairies and the power of true love

Posted April 13

"SPINDLE FIRE," by Lexa Hillyer, HarperCollins, $17.99, 368 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

A unique take on classic fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty," "Spindle Fire" by Lexa Hillyer adds a "Frozen"-like theme of sisterly bonds and delves into the magic of quirky fairies and the power of true love.

Hillyer's debut novel deftly tackles a somewhat complex plot involving two sisters: Aurora, the princess whose parents tithed her voice and her sense of touch to fairies at her birth in exchange for her beauty and obedience, and Isabelle, the older illegitimate daughter of the king whose tithe to the fairies was her sight. These sisters grew up close, inventing their own hand language that Aurora taps into her sister's hand.

When, on her 16th birthday, Aurora pricks her finger on a spindle, to all the world she has fallen asleep, and this "sleeping sickness" spreads to anyone who comes near her. But Aurora has really traveled to another world made of dreams, where Belcoeur, the sister of the fairy queen Malfleur, has been trapped for decades, along with the descendents of her servants. In this dream world, for the first time Aurora can speak, and she can feel. With the help of her new friend, Heath, she seeks to discover a way back home.

A fairy declares Aurora will only awake with the power of true love, so Isabelle runs to a neighboring country in the company of her childhood friend, Gilbert, to find Aurora's betrothed, Prince William. Many obstacles lie in her wake, especially after she is separated from Gilbert and has to find her own way, sightless.

The magic of this story is pleasantly mysterious, with true fairy tale and "Alice in Wonderland"-like mix-ups and illusions. Ultimately, everything comes together. Though many questions are answered, it is clear by the end that there is an intended sequel or two to follow. Readers who enjoy the book will thus have to wait until the next books come out to know how things turn out for Aurora and Isabelle.

There is one instance of profanity and vague references to violence and sex, but the romance is limited to kissing.

Email: mbulsiewicz@deseretnews.com

Twitter: mgarrett589

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