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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spindle's End, by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley's Spindle's End (2000) is a book infused through and through with magic. (See here for an essay on magic in the book, and here for the so-far brief Wikipedia article on Spindle's End.) The book is McKinley's take on "Sleeping Beauty."

Another aspect of the book is the connection between Katriona, a seeming teen-age girl, who, on impulse, spirits the baby princess away to a long hiding place in her simple village, and animals. Katriona can, while she is traveling with the Princess, speak to the animals, and they to her, and the princess is fed by milk from all sorts of mammals. Later, Katriona loses the ability to understand animal speech, but the princess has it. In the end, various animals help the princess defeat the evil fairy who has laid a curse on her, with one, a large captive raptor, finally destroying the evil Pernicia.

McKinley considers the relationship between magic and the church of the time. There are some tensions, but Katriona decides that paying the local priest to pray for the growing princess is worth the money.

I won't give away the plot, but I wished that McKinley had shortened the ending. The final conflict between the princess and the evil fairy, Pernicia, goes on too long, it seemed to me.

I have previously posted about a book by this author.

Nonetheless, the book is well worth reading.

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