The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

It happened! It finally happened!

I knew that one day that book would happen and that I would love it! I’m so glad I was patient and didn’t get angry at his other books that left my brain crying over the flabby questionnaires. I waited and waited. Ladies and gentlemen, I solemnly announce that I have finally been delighted with Neil Gaiman’s book.

There are no names in this book, but the characters are already so familiar to us that we don’t need names. Every child would know how to recognize them from who the characters hang out with and from what is said about them.

The adventure begins one morning, when a young girl wakes up in her bed, casts an eye on her wedding dress, remembers how a lavish wedding ceremony awaits her soon, and – sighs resignedly at the monotony of her future, at the numbing repetitiveness of her own duties.

She wondered how she would feel to be a married woman. It would be the end of her life, she decided, if life was a time of choices.

Neil Gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle

But then he hears a strange, threatening rumor from a dwarf friend. The kingdom she borders on quickly falls under the influence of a spell nearly a hundred years old. Magic does not know natural obstacles, it does not respect the agreed boundaries between people. He takes control and spares no one, regardless of the height of one’s position or the nobility of one’s origin.

The dwarves guess where the spell must break, but they don’t know how. Many have tried, but the surroundings of the castle from which the magic flourishes testify to decades of defeat and failure in that plan.

An adventure or a wedding? Finally, a choice! Why not? After all, she was the only one to survive the same spell once. Maybe another time?

The young queen embarks on a raid on the castle where she encounters very twisted answers to direct questions and suggests very fresh ways to solve a hundred-year-old problem. And he makes some new decisions because he finally sees some new elections.

You don’t need princes to save you. I don’t have a lot of patience for stories in which women are rescued by men.

Neil Gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle

This little book is so much. Beautifully illustrated picture book for adults. A cheeky and bold version of not just one, but two fairy tales; recreating the character and destiny of not one but two famous princesses.

I have to admit that Gaiman, at least in my eyes, gave these princesses the reconstruction they needed. One has always been the least interesting and the least exciting to me of all that I have encountered in fairy tales. She ruled her own destiny the least, she ran away the most. Here she is now, completely different and beautiful! And it reminds me so much of a beautiful young woman I know, who I count among the most brilliant role models from my close environment whose courage is still untouchable to me… If you are reading this, my “Morena”, this is for you.

I like stories where women save themselves.

Neil gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle

The second princess has always been a symbol of superior beauty that subdues both people and life’s adversities. Someone who literally doesn’t have to move a finger for years to influence her destiny may even lie dormant for decades, but if her beauty and youth survive, she will eventually deserve a happy ending that made her literally not even blink. (Of course, if we follow the child-friendly versions of fairy tales, devoid of all the cruelties present in the original versions.) Here she is in a completely different guise.

This is a book that can be read during one short coffee and the first impression after reading it can be – indifference to what is read. And then you go home, and you can’t get it out of your head, and you see that it has sown seeds in you that so quickly begin to germinate, and then bloom with dozens of questions and bunches of “Aha!” – buds.

There are choices, she thought, when she had sat long enough. There are always choices.

She made one.

Neil gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle

As dark as it is only fairy tales can be, it is so interwoven with the refreshing cut-the-crapness that fairy tales otherwise lack.

So Mr. Gaiman loved. Coelho, Hesse – now it’s your turn.

Learning how to be strong, to feel her own emotions and not another’s, had been hard; but once you learned the trick of it, you did not forget.

Neil gaiman, The Sleeper and the Spindle

9 thoughts on “The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman”

  1. I’ve been hearing raves about Neil Gaiman’s work for ages but have yet to read any of their books! I’ll have to add this one to my TBR. From what you’ve written about it, it’s clear you loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only read Coraline by Neil Gaiman, but I have been wanting to read more books by him so I’ll definitely have to check this one out!
    I LOVE that there are illustrations (why don’t more books for adults have illustrations?) & I also love fairy tales so it would be fun to read his take on them

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been a huge Neil Gaiman fan for a long time, but I haven’t read this one yet. Thank you for reviewing it. The illustrations are amazing, and I can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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