cover image A Spindle Splintered

A Spindle Splintered

Alix E. Harrow. Tordotcom, $17.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-250-76535-2

Part portal fantasy, part dissertation on Sleeping Beauty adaptations, this overly complicated novella from Harrow (The Once and Future Witches) offers a layered look at how fairy tales serve as mirrors to society. Sleeping Beauty–obsessed Zinnia Gray is dying of Generalized Roseville Malady. She celebrates her last expected birthday by jokingly pricking her finger on a spindle at a fairy tale–themed party thrown by her best friend, Charm Baldwin—and immediately falls through the multiverse into a Disneyesque, “knock-off fairy tale” world. There, she must help Princess Primrose escape the unhappily ever after that’s in store for her, with the help of Charm and a motley assortment of other Sleeping Beauties from alternate versions of the tale. Though intended to be tongue-in-cheek, Primrose’s high fantasy dialogue is cringeworthy at points (“From whence have you come?”), and Harrow devotes more pages to pop culture references—with nods to both classic literature and contemporary memes—than to secondary character development, leaving some of the alternate Sleeping Beauties little more than flat caricatures. Though Harrow’s ambition isn’t realized, the concept is delightful and the queer romance that arises between Charm and Primrose is, well, charming. This deeply researched fairy tale version of Into the Spiderverse is sure to please Harrow’s fans.[em] (Oct.) [/em]