McKinley, Robin. Spindle's End: A Tale of Magic and Adventure. London: Corgi Books, 2003. ISBN: 0-552-54822-7.
This delightful novel length retelling of Sleeping Beauty takes us into a wonderful world where magic integrates itself into everyday life. Cursed on her "name day," the infant princess is sent into hiding with a young apprentice fairy, Katriona. Rosie, unaware of her true identity, grows up like any other child in "The Gig," a remote part of the country. Following the dreaded Name Day event, the evil fairy Pernicia leaves a dark cloud over the land, sending her searching spell into the remotest parts of the wild, looking for the cursed princess to take her revenge on the royal family. Aunt and Katriona protect Rosie as best they can and manage to keep her safe until close to her twenty-first birthday when she learns that she is really the princess that she has heard about all of her life. Rosie's life takes a dramatic turn and the spirited girl from the Gig does not give into the curse without a fight.
In addition to the traditional "Sleeping Beauty" tale, McKinley creates an elaborate world of fairies, wizards, and sentient animals and houses. At times, it can be difficult to follow the references she makes to the foreign customs and traditions of this country. However, the narrative eventually explains itself and makes it all worthwhile. The adventure of Rosie and her loved ones is a tale that should not be missed.
K.C. June '03
McKinley, Robin. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. Oxford: David Fickling Books, 2003 (reprint of 1978 edition). ISBN: 0-385-60480-7.
In her first book, Robin McKinley presents a novel length version of the
classic tale "Beauty and the Beast." The beauty of her older sisters
shadows Beauty, who gains her nickname from a childish comment made when
she was only five years old. However, the gangly young adolescent finds
solace studying the classics and riding horses. When her father loses his
fortune the family must relocate to the countryside. While it is a
difficult transition, Beauty finds her niche working for the family with
her beloved horse, Greatheart.
Hearing news of his lost fleet, Beauty's father returns to the city to
recover his lost fortune. However, his ships are in disrepair and there is
little to recover. Returning home, he loses his way in a winter storm and
stumbles upon an enchanted castle, where he seeks shelter. As he departs,
he takes a rose for his hardworking daughter. This angers the beast and
sets the events of the well-known tale in motion.
Beauty offers a unique twist on the classic tale, developing a lovely cast
of characters that enhance the beloved story of a young woman who learns to
see beyond beastly appearances.