The Sleeper and the Spindle | Neil Gaiman

Whenever I think of excellent wordsmiths, Neil Gaiman gleefully comes to mind. There is something beautiful about his prose, how it lingers and create shivers down your spine. The Sleeper and the Spindle is no different – plus it comes with some awesome illustrations!

The Sleeper and the Spindle is sort of a fairytale retelling, accessible to many ages, about a Queen on a quest to break a 100 year old sleeping curse. We are led to believe this is a mash up of two popular fairy tales, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

But what I really enjoyed about this story was how it played with the fairytale genre. Key elements are still there; the sleeping curse, magic, a princess, a quest and a kiss. But it’s not about true love and all that jazz, but rather I think, about understanding what you want and is the path you are down now – the one you truly want to be on? An important theme to explore, I believe.

And also a woman saving another woman?! How cool is that!

The illustrations also add another great dimension, they are somewhat comical yet harrowing at the same time and it really fits the tone of the story.

And although I haven’t read many of Neil Gaiman’s works, only Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and this – this is a story I would recommend to those who want a good starting point. It’s a story I can read to my younger cousins whilst enjoying the experience at the same time. A win, if I must say so.

This is a story for Neil Gaiman lovers, for fairytale aficionados, for children and adults and all those who want something light, introspective and charming.

I give The Sleeper and the Spindle 3.5/5*

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time | Liz Jensen

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time feels slightly reminiscent of a mixture between Jane Eyre and the Discworld books, except with time travel, avocado condoms and a little girl who loves spiderman. It’s witty, unapologetic and downright charming – and totally not in the same vein of other time travel novels I’ve encountered. I mean, the time traveller is a cunning Danish prostitute from the late 1800s with a lazy, sometimes unintelligible mother figure as a sidekick.

So to expand on what the novel is about, I’ll add in the blurb as my mind is still buzzing after finishing the last page. I just put the book down five minutes ago!

In Copenhagen, part-time prostitute Charlotte and her lumpen sidekick, Fru Schleswig, haven taken on jobs as cleaning ladies of dubious talent to tide them over the harsh winter of 1897. But the home of their neurotic new employer, the widow Krak, soon reveals itself to be riddled with dark secrets – including the existence of a demonic machine rumoured to swallow people alive. Rudely catapulted into twenty-first century London, the hapless duo discover a whole new world of glass, labour-saving devices and hectic, impossible romance.

Now with that out of the way, it’s time to focus my mind on summarising the hectic feelings this novel has pushed on me.

Firstly:

  • I loved the character of Charlotte, she was this awesome bull-busting person who got things done. But she was also inclined towards melodrama and exaggeration, and was unapologetic about who she was and what she did for a living. I appreciated that. The novel also relied on her narration, and oh boy was it fun and playful. I don’t think the novel would have worked as well, if not for that narration.
  •  The novel feels like a romp, a light hearted romp with adventure, action and dazzle. It was a nice step from the darkness of the last novel I read.
  • The other characters were interesting and eccentric – much to my liking!

I also enjoyed the romance, it was sweet and lovely – however the development was slightly too quick for me. It did fit the tone of the book. And although the science side (time travel) rushed over my head a bit, it wasn’t necessary to understand it to enjoy the novel.

Overall this was a nice quick read, wonderful with a cup of jasmine tea.

I give My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time 3.5/5*

The Just City | Jo Walton

I picked up this novel mainly because I found the inclusion of time travel and Greek gods quite fascinating but wasn’t quite sure how much I would enjoy the philosophy and art discussion. I think the most I’ve ever really thought about philosophy was when thinking of Thomas More’s Utopia and whether an Utopian society was possible.

The Just City expands on this idea. It is a novel about the Goddess Athene and an experiment to create philosopher kings through taking people from all points of time to a place, say Atlantis, to study philosophy and create a ‘just’ city. The creation of this city and how it is governed is based off Plato’s Republic. Coming into a book like this, I had only ever heard of Plato and had never really read about his ideas or the books he had written. So let’s say I was like the ten year olds who were brought to this city in this book, with open eyes and a willingness to learn.

Apart from the philosophy, the novel examines the lives of three different people. Maia, who was once a Victorian lady, now a Master of this city. Simmea, one of the children brought to the city who was once an Egyptian slave. And the god Apollo, who has decided to incarnate as a ten year old boy so he can understand volition.

I loved each of these character dearly, they all had their different ideas and perspectives on the evolution of the city and it was interesting and clever. Although I’ll have to say my favorite character is Socrates, yes that Socrates, a super, friendly person who absolutely loves debate and challenging ideas.

The book discusses many things: justice, types of love, souls, freedom and so much more. And if a book can have a climax with a debate between Socrates and the goddess Athene – and it being insanely awesome, I cannot help but love it.

And there is a sequel to this – I think I know what I’ll be reading in the near future…

I give this novel 5/5*