‘FIVE MAGIC SPINDLES’: FIVE SLEEPING BEAUTY RE-TELLINGS

July 20, 2016 9 Comments
‘FIVE MAGIC SPINDLES’: SLEEPING BEAUTY, RE-TOLD. Review of the 2016 collection from Rooglewood. All text  © Rissi JC

There probably aren’t many of us who don’t love a good fairytale. We swoon over the romantics, become captured by the adventure and smile in pleasure over the comfort a happy ending is around the corner. Imagine then enjoying not one but five neat little fairytales captured in one pretty novel. That’s what you’ll find if you open the pages of Five Magic Spindles, the product of Rooglewood Press’ third fairytale retelling contest.

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Inside these pages are five unique stories. The authors were tasked with reimagining the Sleeping Beauty legend, no small feat considering the heroine sleeps through (nearly) her entire story. Since this features multiple stories, I thought I’d break this review up to better share my thoughts about each story rather than lump suppositions in a larger scale. With that said, let’s learn about the Five Magic Spindles stories.

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THE MAN ON THE BUCKSKIN HORSE by Rachel Koviciny

The POV in this story is that of Emma, a good-hearted midwife who rides to her neighbor’s farm to warn him of a danger he isn’t aware of. It’s here that we meet “Sleeping Beauty,” the farmer’s daughter. Perhaps the most difficult to (blindly) accept as a retelling, Rachel has not only challenged herself by telling this story, but her readers.

Set in the rip-roaring old west, the detached perspective of a second party made this one a unique read. Instead of a prince or hero being the one to save a Kingdom, a hero arrives in the form of a midwife. Emma is a spunky heroine and those surrounding her are no different. Everyone gets fleshed out nicely despite being only inside Emma’s head. From the innocent Rosalind to the “Man,” this novel sparks with personality and unique perspectives.

What I admired most about Rachel’s story was its unafraid way of re-tooling a classic. Rachel’s deep love of the old west shows on every page as she weaves inklings of the beloved story we love so much into each page. ‘The Man on the Buckskin Horse’ is entertaining, and a wonderful start to what is, a wonderful collection of fairytales.

GUARDIAN OF OUR BEAUTY by Kathryn McConaughy

From the Old West to the Far East, Katheryn’s story introduces us to Palli, a young princess whose destiny is to rescue her people from a terrible fate. Falling into a deep sleep on her wedding day, Palli must help a hero rise to the occasion not only to save her people, but to win her hand. Prince Neriya is the younger son in the line of monarchs, but he becomes the only hero able to seek out the fated kingdom where Palli lies in slumber.

This high fantasy story is as exciting as it is romantic. The technique Katheryn employs to spin a new idea into the Sleeping Beauty legend is fantasy at its brightest. Despite being in slumber, I appreciated that Palli was “present” for much of the story. Also pleasant were the subtle intricacies woven into the elegant writing that showed the growing affection between her and Neriya.  

Beautifully established writing and great characters is sure to set ‘Guardian of Our Beauty’ apart in the fairytale realm.

THE GHOST OF BRIARDALE by Grace Mullins

Ghostly shenanigans abound in this zany little comedy. Roselee is a ghost, with few memories, trapped and on a mission to seek out a mortal hero for a mysterious sleeping princess. All of which takes place in an insane asylum no less! As Roselee searches for just such a boy, she encounters Franz. But is he the chosen one? Or will she be forced to continue searching?

Grace’s story is like an infectious personality. It’s pure delight from beginning to end. The story moves swiftly through the ghostly (and crazy!) halls of the asylum featuring an ensemble cast of loveable characters. We root for Franz to break free of his prison of brick and mortar, and for the princess to be awakened from her prison of slumber.

There’s excitement, laughter and a unique voice (pen) that the author should be proud of. 

SPINDLE CURSED by Michelle Pennington

The Sleeping Beauty of this story is Arabella, a beautiful spirt who’s been comatose for many years, protected by her loyal fairy godmother. Under the guise of assisting in breaking the curse so that Arabella might claim her rightful throne, her cousin plots behind her back. All of this might have gone off with no one the wiser had a Prince not walked in on her nefarious plans. 

Perhaps the most traditional of the bunch, ‘Spindle Cursed’ is a beautiful romance from beginning to end. Michelle’s skill in crafting a story is poetry. I admired how simplistic this story is because it was just what I craved to help make this collection complete. The beautiful romance that develops between Arabella and her hero might seem to go unnoticed, but really it’s the strength of the novella. I admired that the heroine, while lost in dreams, wasn’t lost to the reader and instead was very present in the present. This gave the story room to breathe and come alive. 

If you’re yearning for a traditional spin on the classic beauty that is the legend of the sleeping princess, discover this story. There’s dragons, and magic, to say nothing of the fact that the story allows its female protagonist to be the heroine (in part) of her own story. It’s a jewel from opening page to that iconic kiss.

OUT OF THE TOMB by Ashley Stangl

Burdened with a past that’s sketchy, Tanza is a tomb raider. As a thief who knows the score in her world, Tanza believes she’s worth no more than what she has. All of this changes when she meets a prince caught under a spell that sent him into a deep sleep. Tanza chose the wrong – or could it be the right? – tomb to raid when her presence awakens the prince. Unaware of how his kingdom has changed in his absence, the prince is unprepared for what is to come, but with Tanza’s help, perhaps the two can right the wrongs of their rapidly changing world.  

Sci-fi and adventure abound in this re-telling. The classic story is turned on its head in this gender swapped tale that is uniquely coded. Who’d imagine a classic fairytale could work in a space setting? Ashley Stangl did, and she creates a whole new kind of magic because of this. Despite the heroine being in need of redemption, I loved Tanza and eventually, Auren’s presence in her life. The way in which he affects her life is a beautifully realized journey.  

If you love sci-fi stories, but are unsure about fairytales, give ‘Out of the Tomb’ a fair chance. It’s clever, humorous and not without a message of forgiveness and hope. In short, it’s a story with depth and purpose.  


From a spunky midwife in an old west showdown to the ancient mysteries of the Far East; an asylum dungeon to the romantic traditions of a castle tower and dragons, and finally to the great unknown (space), Five Magic Spindles is sure to enchant. Some of these characters grabbed a hold of my heart sooner than others. Some of the settings and sweet romance enchanted me beyond my expectations. But when I clicked the final page to the end of this collection, one thing stood out. In their own way, each of these five novellas is splendid.

To potential readers, I say this: don’t delay in snatching up this magical collection. If you’re anything like me, this will mesmerize.  

About the Book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details. If you have purchased anything through our links, thank you. We’re grateful.)

Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Source: Author and Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere: Goodreads
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org ǀ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Fairytale, Novella Collection
Rating: 5 out of 5

Sincere thanks to the publisher (and author, Rachel) for providing a complimentary e-copy of Five Magic Spindles for reviewing purposes. 

Review text is © Copyright 2011-2016 Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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9 Comments

  • Olivia K. Fisher July 21, 2016 at 2:11 am

    That's a wonderful review, Rissi! I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this collection! :)

    • Rissi July 26, 2016 at 11:39 pm

      It's well worth any wait, Olivia. I hope you enjoy it. And thanks for visiting. :)

  • Miranda Atchley July 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I've only read Grace's story, and it was lovely. I plan to read the others when I can. Glad you enjoyed them, Rissi!

    • Rissi July 26, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      I did indeed enjoy them, Miranda. So much creativity went in this collection. From its opening pages (a rip-roaring western!) to its final page (an odyssey in SPACE!), this is a fabulous collection indeed. Hope you enjoy the rest of them. :)

  • Kara August 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I just bought this one while it was on sale over the weekend. Looking forward to reading all the stories! They sound fun. :)

    • Rissi August 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      These are all really fun, Kara – and all so unique and clever. It makes reading each one an adventure. I hope they bring a smile. Enjoy!

  • Miranda A. Uyeh/TBAP October 5, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Lovely, Rissi, as always!

    • Rissi October 6, 2016 at 4:53 am

      Thanks, Miranda! This collection is lovely. :)

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