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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book Review & Guest Post - Spindle by Shonna Slayton

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Review by Suze
Briar isn't even seventeen years old yet, but she has many responsibilities. She has to take care of her siblings. Because she's the sole provider of her household she needs to leave them with a nanny while working at a spinning mill. Her best friend Henry is the person who makes her laugh. He brings joy in her life and Briar is sad when he has to leave. He tells her he will come back, but there's hardly any news from him and she misses him terribly.
One day a peddler offers Briar something from his cart in exchange for information. Briar chooses a wooden spindle, which she wants to take with her to the mill to make her work easier. Briar's spindle draws a lot of attention. From the moment it's there the girls at the mill are getting sick. They're having a strange sleeping sickness. While Briar learns more about her new spindle she knows she should be careful with it. She also tries to prevent others from coming near. Can she keep herself safe from harm at the same time or will the spindle find a way to prick her anyway?
Spindle is a mix of a fairytale retelling and historical romance. Shonna Slayton has done her research well and that clearly shows in her story. It's quite literary and very different from what I expected when I first started reading. It's not a light and fun read, but a book about serious topics like voting rights for women, the freedom of having a bicycle and the consequences of wages that are being cut. The historical background is as important as the mysterious spindle and the consequences for Briar of having it in her life. As I love magical realism I didn't mind this at all and decided to let the story surprise me.
Spindle isn't fast-paced and I think that suits the historical timeframe. There is a lot going on though. Briar has to take care of an entire family by herself. Her nanny will leave the children after a given deadline, which gives Briar stress. The guy who is the sunshine of her life has to leave, but she tries to make the best of it. She's an incredibly strong girl with many talents. Briar always manages to find a way out of any difficult situation she's in. She never whines and she shoulders her responsibilities in the best way possible. She's a sweet girl, but she's also confident and brave, which is a combination I really liked.
Spindle is a story about an enchanted spindle. It's a Sleeping Beauty retelling. This is one of my favorite fairytales and I like the way Shonna Slayton has used this beautiful story. There are interesting family bonds, supernatural secrets and unexpected twists and turns. Spindle is a special story, it's got a solid basis and there's a clear message for women. Shonna Slayton can definitely write and I think Spindle is a great multifaceted story.
Guest post
My new historical fairy tale, Spindle, takes place in the late 1800s, and while writing the story, I learned a lot about this time period. One of my favorite topics to research was entertainment—just how did they pass the time back then? No smart phones!!!

Well, they hung out with friends and played parlor games.

Instead of a family room decked out with a big screen TV and an Xbox, a parlor came well-equipped with a table for games, a variety of chairs for visitors, and possibly a piano forte for ambiance.

What games? Tiddledy winks, board games, card games such as whist, as well as verbal games of logic.

If you’ve ever been part of a church youth group, chances are you’ve played some version of these old games like Wink Murder, Change Seats, and Do You Love Your Neighbor?

These group games can be a lot of fun to play. Since Halloween is coming up, I’ll share one version of Wink Murder.

One person is selected as the Murderer. (If you have a large group, you can select more than one—although it can be awkward when the murderers accidentally kill each other.) You can make the selection by handing out playing cards, and a designated card is reserved to indicate the murderer. You can also do this with slips of paper and one is marked.

You can play facing one another in a circle. Or, you can meander the room, eating snacks, à la a murder mystery party.

For the rest of the game play, the murderer kills his or her victims by holding their gaze and winking at them.

When “killed” the victim must count to five before dying a dramatic death or leaving the room.

The rest of the players are busy trying to spot the killer. If you have a guess, you say “I accuse” and name the murderer. If you guess wrong, you are out of the game.

If you have a group of people who can’t wink, you can also play by shaking hands. Someone is murdered with a double squeeze.

Ah, those Victorians sure knew how to have a good time.
About Shonna Slayton

Shonna Slayton writes historical fairy tales for Entangled TEEN. She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.

Learn more about Shonna’s books—including how to download a free one—at
In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…
Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else. Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?

When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.

If Briar wants to save the girls―and herself―she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.


  1. The premise is really intriguing, and I enjoyed Shonna's guest post!


  2. I live retelling versions of fairy tales. This book sound fascinating! Thank you for the review.

  3. Sounds really interesting: In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger… Yeah, I love it.

  4. I don't usually read fairytales but the historical aspect appeals to me. Sounds like a fun game :) I wish I could wink, it would make it more fun than a squeeze.

  5. When we were little my sister & I used to visit 2 elderly sisters who introduced us to all sorts of parlour games. I particularly remember a card game called 'Muggins'!

  6. Sleeping Beauty isn't at the top of my favorite fairytales, but this one sound interesting.

  7. Sleeping Beauty isn't at the top of my favorite fairytales, but this one sound interesting.