Spindle Fire Review: Fairy-Tale Retelling With Two Sisters At Its Heart

October 17, 2017 by Aila J. | 2 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Spindle Fire Review: Fairy-Tale Retelling With Two Sisters At Its HeartSpindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer
Series: Spindle Fire #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 11th 2017
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore
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A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.


It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire closely follows the fairy-tale story of Sleeping Beauty, incorporating the love between two sisters and additional plotlines. While this book was a quick read, I was unimpressed it as a fairy-tale retelling and even more so as a fantasy. There was nothing I didn’t not like, but it just felt lackadaisical and boring. Spindle Fire has the good solid structures of a foundation, but no filling to complete the ground and framework. The quick action made for many things to become easily dismissed: the sisterhood love, the romances, the emotional and physical journeys of the sisters, among others. All in all, I think that with a bit more explanation, introspection, and depth, I would have liked this one. But as it is, it fell flat for me.

The story follows the POV’s of two sisters: Isbe, the bastard daughter of the king who cannot see, and Aurora, the princess who cannot feel or talk. Despite the class differences, the sisters love each other dearly and look out for one another. This aspect of the story is very much told and not shown, as the sisters are together for perhaps 1/5 of the book before getting separated and embarking on their own separate journeys. I could never feel their emotional connection or empathize. It was just… there, as a statement. The story explains so many things to readers instead of showing it, all the information just came out almost mechanically.

They are like night and day, or winter and summer. And like both examples, one could simply not exist without the other.

While both sisters had disabilities, this is never fully explored in the story. The author did have blind beta readers, which shows sensitivity, but I cannot say how well they were represented. I did like the fact that Isbe, however, embraced her lack of sight instead of lamenting on it, which gives positive connotations. As Aurora’s parents are dead, her and Isbe are under the guidance of a council of the royal throne who dictate their actions. When Isbe is commanded to go to a convent, she runs away with the stable boy instead to find freedom. Aurora, on the other hand, stays true to Sleeping Beauty as she pricks her finger on a spindle and gets transported into a sleeping world called Sommeil.

So here the plotline diverges, and intermingled between each sister’s chapters are some fae doing their own thing, which would affect the rest of the world. I found the fantasy setting very simple, and politics very easy to follow. Spindle Fire reads like the kind of old fantasies I would have enjoyed at a younger age: very minimal world-building, easy to follow plot, and a noted lack of adults in the whole adventure. However, as years ago this would have made it exciting, now it just makes me yawn a bit. When Isbe finds out that her sister and kingdom is under the “sleeping sickness,” she sets out to find a royal prince to kiss her sister so Aurora can wake up. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him. Aurora is figuring out what’s happening in the dream world and piecing things together as to why it happened.

Both sisters have romances that I didn’t care at all about. If you were to ask me about the two respective guy male interests, I would be gaping at my mouth because frankly, there’s nothing that makes them stand out. They’re just… nice guys, I guess? It just felt so one-dimensional and bland. Also note that with the quick pace of the book, it also happens rather out of the blue. This is the thing I have with the story: I don’t think it was bad, nor do I dislike it. It was just so bare and boring. The only thing I found a bit of creativity with is the backstory on the fae and how the kingdom got to where it is. It’s a battle between two sisters: Belcoeur, the Night Faerie, and Malfeur, the Day Faerie. I thought the parallels to their sister relationship and certain revelations and connections to Aurora and Isbe were interesting. But other than that, the rest of the story was quite bland and nothing special.


Spindle Fire was a fine fantasy, okay as a retelling and certainly did have interesting moments. But overall, I was just bored throughout reading the passages and the easy access of information that came through, even though there was a large mystery in the book. The predictability and one-dimensional characters made this a quick read, especially with the constantly moving plot. I wouldn’t really recommend this to fantasy readers because there’s nothing that would make it particularly stand out. But for readers interested in it as a retelling, perhaps give it a go? Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the review copy!


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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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4 responses to “Spindle Fire Review: Fairy-Tale Retelling With Two Sisters At Its Heart

  1. I’m sorry this fell flat for you Aila. I mean, I for one never finished it hahaha. (So thanks for reading it for me?). I mean, I believe it when you say that this book just wasn’t interesting enough, because I barely remember it? Sisters? A prince? I do remember the sleeping world though, and some rando guy.

    Either way, awesome review Aila!

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