Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Thornspell by Helen Lowe

Thornspellis a complex retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Sigismund, the prince, knows that he is the one destined to break the spell and wake the princess - the problem is the evil faie Margravine knows he is too. She doesn't want him to wake the princess unless he's under her power - that way she can seize the power of Sleeping Beauty's palace. That definitely complicates things.

Things I Liked:
This was a surprising treat. I hadn't heard a lot of talk about this fairy tale retelling (though the reviews I saw were glowing), so I went in slightly skeptical. I was floored. This was a complex, deep, intricate, and quite beautiful story. Sigismund is the main focus of the story and his training, not to mention growing, is a huge part of the tale. The world created for this tale was quite wonderful - filled with faie and other mystical creatures. The magic was really well done - believable and still powerful. It also managed to keep me guessing on the ending and just how everything worked out. A real treat.

Things I Didn't Like:
The book was a bit slow at the start. I think some of the introductory stuff on Sigismund might have even been dropped and the story would have been just as good. I was also a bit surprised that it was a middle grade/elementary school aged book. While no content made it "objectionable," I found the plot and writing a bit too complex for some younger readers, though I am sure many of them would love it.

A bit like The Princess and the Hound and The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
some fighting and a bloody boar hunt

Overall rating: *****

What's your favorite fairy tale? Fairy tale retelling? Why?


  1. Great review... I'll have to add this to the TBR list.

    Enchantment by Orson Scott Card is also a great retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

  2. NotNessie, I haven't even heard of Enchantment before! In fact, the only Card book I've read is (you guessed it) Ender's Game. I'll have to pick it up, thanks!

  3. This one's on my list too!

    I tell you, sucker for fairy tales. I love Robin McKinley's retellings.

  4. Sounds like another great book for my TBR list. I love fairy tales and retellings. I think my favorites are Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. I've read several retellings, but especially liked "Ella Enchanted" and "Beauty." I've also enjoyed some previously unknown (to me) fairy tales through Shannon Hales' books (love them!).

  5. Britt, I love McKinley's stuff too! I need to pick up some other ones of hers - it's been a while.

    Gayle, I loved Ella Enchanted as well - such an interesting twist. And Shannon Hale always manages to write some excellent books, despite the obscurity of the original tales.

  6. I love fairytale retellings. Great suggestions from the post and comments!

  7. I actually checked this out at the library awhile back and couldn't get into it. Maybe I should give it another shot.

    Hmmm, my favorite fairy tale is probably Cinderella. Not sure why, maybe because I just loved the movie so much growing up.

    I love all retellings, but some of my favorites have been:

    Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
    My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
    Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
    Beastly by Alex Flinn
    Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

  8. Adding it to the list; I haven't heard of this one before.

    Current favorite? Beastly by Alex Flinn.

  9. Bookshelf, I love getting more good recs!

    Kath, it might be a bit hard to get into at first. Worth another shot, if you are a big retelling fan. I used to watch Sleeping Beauty over and over again when I was a kid. Probably why I love a good Sleeping Beauty tale. Same with Beauty and the Beast. I loved all your fairy tale suggestions, thanks!

    Melissa, I really need to get Beastly! I've been meaning to for a while, but just haven't done it yet.

  10. Thornspell was a 'hit' in our household. My fourteen (boy) and eleven (girl) year olds just loved it and I'm a long time fan of Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip and Diana Wynne Jones so feel I have found a new author to 'watch'. I agree about the reading age, though. Starting the recommendation at 8 years is just a little too young for this book.

  11. I totally agree with you, Andie. I'm going to have to see if Lowe writes any more books. Glad your family loved it!

  12. I like your blog, too! Will have to try and keep up with your reviews. :-) And will look out for new Lowe books. A search on 'Helen Lowe' and 'Thornpsell' suggests that there might be another one next year.

  13. Ooh, I hope so! I'd love another fairy tale from her.


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