Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
(HarperCollins, 2015)
Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt, Lara Pulver, Niamh Walsh, Adjoa Andoh, Peter Forbes, John Sessions, Michael Maloney, Sean Baker, Jane Collingwood, Clare Corbett, Allan Corduner, Katherine Kingsley, and Daniel Weyman
This title is a nominee in the 2016 Audie Awards: Young Adult Category

From Goodreads: A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.”

As a mad-for-audio person, it’s anathema to read a book by Neil Gaiman if an audio read by the author exists. He’s a masterful storyteller, and hearing his actual voice as well as the voice of his novel simultaneously is a true pleasure.
So it’s a mark against a Gaiman audio when he’s not the narrator. Unfair? Sure. But he’s the one who spins delightful cosmoses as he narrates, so he can’t blame me.
Now I’ve set forth my prejudices, you’ll understand why this perfectly good full cast audio of The Sleeper and the Spindle didn’t make my heart sing. The cast is fine, there’s nothing wrong with them. They take joy in being ominous and drawing you into the darkness, which is as it should be. But they’re not Gaiman.

The story itself is exactly as dark and gleeful as a Gaiman reinterpretation of the Sleeping Beauty story should be. Trolls, witch/queen hybrids, spiders that weave even while everyone else sleeps – it has it all.

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