Book Reviews

Review: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

You tell me a retelling and I’m already intrigued. But then you tell me a queer feminist multiverse retelling and I’m sold. Talk about a fantastic concept and one that begins from skepticism. Because Sleeping Beauty has never been my favorite. But A Spindle Splintered does it so well. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

A Spindle Splintered immediately had my attention. Cognizant of the historical versions, the sexist implications, and more, A Spindle Splintered examines representation as well as interrogating the classics. Learning the history in order to invert and subvert. It feels meta from the beginning. And that’s before A Spindle Splintered splinters into the multiverse. I’m sorry I had to make that pun. Once Harrow brought in this concept, I think I gasped aloud.

At the same time, I found myself caught up in Zinnia’s narrative style. In the way she sees her own life, her own story. It’s a story for all the girls and women who are sleeping. Who cannot cry out. I ended up listening to this audio book in a matter of days because I needed to find out what was going to happen. Amy Landon was able to perfectly capture the emotional tension, the current of action and momentum. I ended up forgetting what I was doing and just listening.

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While I loved Zinnia’s character, specifically her best friend relationship with Charm, what ended up captivating me was Harrow’s subversive fairy tale exploration. There’s an almost reflexive feel to the story, to her knowledge of other Sleeping Beauty stories. At the same time, there’s also this universal feel to Zinnia’s desire to find a different ending. To take our fate into our own hands. If you love the idea of a subversive fairy tale retelling, you have to check this one out! Find A Spindle Splintered on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound,,, Google Play & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite subversive fairy tale retelling?

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