Neil Gaiman recently released two fairy-tale graphic novels, or more precisely, two illustrated fairy-tale short stories: Hansel and Gretel, and The Sleeper and the Spindle; both a remake of sorts of well-know, beloved, classic fairy-tales.
In the land of Dorimar, on the other side of impossibly high mountains from Kanselaire, a mysterious magical sleeping curse is sweeping the land. A hundred years earlier, a witch who had not been invited to the princess’ name-day cursed the child and the entire kingdom to death. One of the other guests, a good enchantress, downgraded the curse from death to sleep, and so it came to pass, that on the day the witch proclaimed, the princess and everyone in her kingdom fell asleep after she had pricked her finger on a spindle.
Try as they might, countless princes and heroes failed to storm the castle to awaken the princess and lift the curse of the witch. Now, a hundred years later, a mysterious magical force that seems to be radiating from the cursed castle is sweeping the land, causing the everyone in the other villages and cities to fall asleep where they stood.
With news brought to her by her 3 dwarf friends, the queen of Kanselaire, who had herself recently survived a magical sleep curse unscathed, decided that no one was better suited to investigate such a cursed land as herself – that and because she was trying to postpone an inevitable marriage to a certain prince.
The queen and the 3 dwarfs traveled through Dorimar, and on their way to the cursed castle, encountered all the sleeping inhabitants of the different cities and villages. When finally they arrived at the castle, what awaited them was not what they were expecting at all.
The Sleeper and the Spindle is a short story that has all the classic elements of fairy-tales, without all the classic outcomes and endings. The book itself is beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell in black and white, with occasional gold accents. It’s a fun, though very short read, for the young and old alike; sometimes funny, sometimes chilling, always unexpected, and intriguing, a must-read for fairy-tale lovers and Neil Gaiman fans alike.
The Sleeper and the Spindle (2014)- Neil Gaiman / Chris Riddel
Bloomsbury; 69 pages (hardcover)
Personal rating: 3.5/5