cover image Kiss of the Spindle

Kiss of the Spindle

Nancy Campbell Allen. Shadow Mountain, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-62972-414-0

Allen (Beauty and the Clockwork Beast) delivers pure reading joy in a steampunk riff on “Sleeping Beauty” that is equal parts race-against-the-clock adventure, social comedy of errors, sweet romance, and clever alternate history, with a strong moral compass befitting its fairytale heritage. Isla Cooper, a kind and empathetic physician and advocate for peaceful shape-shifters (and a hunter of criminal ones), negotiates passage on the private airship of wealthy, dashing Capt. Daniel Pickett, who smuggles shifters to the Caribbean. She has a sleeping sickness that plagues her for six hours a day; the voyage is her last hope of obtaining a cure before she falls permanently asleep. The charismatic and delightfully developed other passengers—the automaton servant who’s part Data and part Jeeves, the shape-shifting older English intellectuals sadly leaving home, the antagonistic government official with an awkward secret—come together to support Isla in the tricky work of solving her problem, while Daniel starts looking like a good candidate to deliver the fabled curative kiss. Allen turns Sleeping Beauty’s passive story upside down with Isla’s active competence and frustration with how the curse interferes with her work; fans of strong heroines will be deeply satisfied. Agents: Bob DiForio and Pam Victorio, D4EO Literary. (July)