The Bone Spindle

Penguin/Razorbill. Jan. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593325827.
Gr 7 Up–A hundred years ago, the maleficent Spindle Witch caused the fall of Andar, leaving bespelled Prince Briar Rose asleep in a thorn-wrapped castle. Near the border, two exiles—female “huntsman for hire” Shane, escaping an unwelcome inheritance, and treasure hunter Fi, concealing a curse—partner for a treasure hunt. Then Fi touches a bone spindle, connecting her to Briar and allowing his dream-self to visit her in the real world. How annoying that he is golden-haired, kind, powerful, and awkward, and that she, apparently, must wake him with a kiss! First, avoiding witch hunters and getting into Andar is problematic; second, the Spindle Witch is still out there; and third, with her curse, Fi cannot afford love. Shane, meanwhile, is smitten with an enigmatic female witch-thief, Red, who keeps turning up everywhere. And so their adventures begin. Vedder weaves compelling character back tories into a complex plot, rich with detail and magic, and balances heart-pounding action with romance, travel, and thorough worldbuilding. Readers will appreciate that Briar’s dream-self visits fix the fairy tale improbability of falling in love with someone asleep, and that Shane’s attractions are unremarkable in this world. Neither romance goes beyond passionate kisses. While the ending is not quite a cliffhanger, the adventures are clearly not over—the Spindle Witch still awaits. Fi and Red are described as “tan” with dark brown hair, while Shane has “fair” skin and “ash-brown” hair.
VERDICT This gender-flipped retelling effortlessly melds romance, adventure, and fantasy. Highly recommended.

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