23301545 The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

Not many books can be described as beautiful books, but this is one that is truly stunning. From the partly printed, partly transparent dust jacket revealing further cover art beneath to the deeply richly illustrated pages you know that this, like all good editions of fairytales, is a book to treasure. It simply wouldn’t be the same in either paperback or ebook.

It’s a subtle blend of both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with possibly a smattering of Repunzal and Rumpelstiltskin that keeps you guessing to the end as to what will happen.I attended an excellent talk with The Expert on fairytale, Jack Zipes, a year or so ago and he made the point that whilst the recent mining of fairytales into big novels and blockbuster movies might promise strong female characters, too often all they deliver is woman characters succeeding only through acting like men rather through genuine feminine characteristics.

In this book, the characters are allowed to genuinely be themselves, whether they be the young queen, the supposably wicked old crone, or the sleeping princess. It’s a delight I will not spoil to see how it unfolds…