The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by Chris Riddell) – Book Review

Hello Humans! Today’s review should be short and sweet as I’m pretty sure all I have to do is show you some photos of this book from my bookstagram and you’ll know if it’s a yes or a no for you. 

I’m mostly kidding, I’m gonna talk about the story too – but The Sleeper and the Spindle is one of the most beautiful books I have on my shelf and I will yell about it to anyone who will listen.

Sleeper and the Spindle

Goodreads Summary:

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

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Yes, it’s another fairytale retelling – did you think I’d stopped reading them? OF COURSE NOT. 

There are two elements to this book, the story and the illustrations, so I’ll try to cover both of them separately for now.


The story! Now I’m pretty sure it’s clear from the synopsis that this is a Sleeping Beauty retelling but with a queen instead of a prince. Now my bisexual butt assumed that meant it would be gay. Alas, though there are some moments where we came close (there’s a gorgeous illustration of the protagonist all dressed in her armour that made me squee a little) overall this book is not the gay fairytale we deserve. That being said, Neil Gaiman does a good job in a short time of making the story feel new. He manages to capture that ‘storytelling/fairytale’ vibe without letting things feel overly pretentious or false. It’s a short story really and if anyone’s read any of Gaiman’s short stories before it has a similar feeling, leaving a lot of space for you as the reader to fill in some gaps, while still making things feel coherent. 

Instagram 3 (2)

But it’s the illustrations that make this book shine (in my case literally as there is gold foil* in most of the pictures). I’ve been deeply in love with Chris Riddell’s illustrations since I read The Edge Chronicles as a child and seeing him tackle a fairytale aesthetic is about as beautiful as you can imagine.

Did I mention he draws the queen in a full suit of armour? Because I feel like I haven’t said it enough. 

Girls with swords.

But I digress, the illustrations perfectly accompany the story letting you completely topple into the world that has been created. 


What I liked was that though this book was clearly created to be beautiful it doesn’t have that ‘we stuck gold foil on it so you plonkers will shell out your cash for a meh story’ feeling that some more ‘gifty’ books have, this is something where thought has gone into the creation, and yes it is a lovely gift but it’s the quality of the writing, the art and whoever did they layout that makes it.

*It might not be foil I’m not sure what the technical term is…

My rating: 5 / 5 stars

This book was bought for me by my darling wife, all opinions are my own!

Buy your copy!

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What say you? Are you as obsessed as I am? Let me know in the comments below!


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