I very rarely talk about specific books here on the blog anymore but I was lucky enough to read SPINDLE by E.K. Johnston early, and as it comes out tomorrow, I must, must sing its praises.
SPINDLE, like its companion novel A THOUSAND NIGHTS, has a fairytale at its core but for SPINDLE, it’s more of a single bright red thread that weaves through everything while a new story unfurls around the characters and the setting. You’ll recognize the Sleeping Beauty elements, but they do not distract or limit Johnston in her prose or her storytelling.
Spindle is mostly Yashaa’s story, and though The Little Rose’s story is a part of his, for me, this was the story of a boy who knew the story of a girl, and how her story cut through his story. Yashaa is a refugee because of the curse on The Little Rose, because the ban on the type of magic his mother and other spinners do, and this begins the theme that our stories, our individual stories do not exist in a vacuum. They spin together with other stories, turning our threads and fibers into yarn, and all together into a collective tapestry. The pulling and coming together of certain threads, people and elements of politics and power and magic, continues throughout the book.
The Little Rose surprised me, the same way she surprises Yashaa, with her strength and determination, but again, I still found Yashaa and his found family to be the most compelling parts of the book. The way spinning is addictive, in good ways and in bad ways, the ways they protect each other and carry each other, the ways they act as checks and balances. So Little Rose’s story becomes the way their story threads are brought into a bigger tapestry, instead remaining part of something small and insular.
But that was done without making The Little Rose a plot device. She’s her own heroine in many ways, and she demands respect for more than her royal title. The Little Rose owns her story, and her own life, and though it is vastly different than Yashaa’s life, she understands and insists that both their experiences and lives and stories have value. Hers, no less and no more than his.
I really loved this aspect of SPINDLE because I think it’s timely to our experiences in real life right now: every story is valuable in its own way, and every experience is valid. The validity of one person’s experience and story does not undermine others’ stories. They’re woven together a bigger picture of culture and life and society. And sometimes the way they weave together is painful, or ugly, or not what we wanted to believe was true. But that does not make them less valid or less real.
SPINDLE is a timely, lyrical book about the stories we hear, the stories we internalize, the stories we share, and the stories we live.
While I do hope you pick up A THOUSAND NIGHTS, the companion novel, reading it first is not necessary to reading SPINDLE.
And it’s out tomorrow!