Spindle Splintered
by Harrow, Alix E.

Left with a rare condition caused by an industrial accident, Zinnia Gray celebrates her 21st, and possibly last, birthday and pricks her finger on a spinning wheel at a party, in a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty. 75,000 first printing.

A former academic and adjunct, Alix E. Harrow is now a full-time writer living in Virginia with her husband and their semi-feral toddlers. In 2019 she won a Hugo Award for her short fiction and published her first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Best-selling author Harrow revives and rejuvenates the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale with a feminist twist in her latest (after The Once and Future Witches, 2020). Zinnia Gray has always had an affinity for Sleeping Beauty. Maybe it was the blond hair and blue eyes, but it was mostly that Sleeping Beauty was cursed and yet refused to die. Zinnia is also cursed to die, but not by a fairy; an incurable disease is the villain of her story. Now turning 21, Zinnia is staring down the tunnel at death, as none with her disease have made it past age 22. At her birthday party, Zinnia pricks her finger on a spindle and is transported to a familiar-sounding fairy-tale land with a familiar-sounding princess. Princess Primrose has also been cursed to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep, but, with Zinnia's help, together they will both rewrite the narratives society gave them. Harrow uses her excellent skill as a storyteller to give agency back to the passive princess. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

A modern Sleeping Beauty determined to rewrite her story finds purpose in her life's curse. Harrow's version of the sleeping princess is from Ohio. She's not actually Sleeping Beauty, but she considers herself a kindred spirit of sorts. "It was my own shitty story made mythic and grand and beautiful. A princess cursed at birth. A sleep that never ends. A dying girl who refused to die." But Zin's curse is a bit more permanent. She has a disease called Generalized Roseville Malady and no one with it has lived to see the age of 22. Zin has just turned 21, and not even a Sleeping Beauty-themed party thrown by her best friend, Charm, can distract her from impending eternal sleep. That is, until she pricks her finger on the needle of the party-decor spinning wheel and is thrown into a parallel reality with a more standard-model Sleeping Beauty named Primrose. Given that Zin has found herself in a strange place lacking modern medicine, you'd think she'd be quick to get home. But not so-despite pleas from Charm over many texts which are inexplicably still received-because Zin has just found a purpose beyond waiting for her last breath: "I've fallen out of my own story and into one that might have a happy ending." Zin's arrival in Prim's world prevented Prim from pricking herself on her spinning wheel, and if her curse can be altered, what about Zin's? The one-dimensional world of Prim's Disney-like universe sets the tone for a rather one-dimensional quest to alter fate, but themes of female friendship, female strength, and female independence leave good feels behind, not to mention some laugh-out-loud bits. The short length, brisk pace, and pop-culture references definitely make this young-adult friendly, though anyone who enjoys a sarcastic first-person narrator can take this for a spin. This fairy tale-superhero movie mashup is pure entertainment. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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