In anticipation of the release of Lexa Hillyer’s WINTER GLASS, we’re reviewing SPINDLE FIRE, the novel that started it all!
The legend of Sleeping Beauty gets thrown for a loop in Lexa Hillyer’s Spindle Fire, the first book in a duology of the same name.
Princess Aurora of Deluce is a bright, beautiful, hopeless romantic. But thanks to twisted faerie magic and selfish parents, very few people know that, because the faeries tithed away her ability to speak and her sense of touch shortly after birth. The only person who truly understands her is her bastard half-sister Isabelle aka Isbe, who was left blind at age two when a faerie tithe meant to help Aurora took Isbe’s eyesight in the process. But Isbe has grown into a street smart, resourceful young woman who’s no proper royal puppet.
The sisters are on the precipice of change when the novel begins. With her parents long dead, Aurora is set to marry the Crown Prince of the neighboring nation of Aubin, cementing an alliance through a relationship with a man she’s never met and protecting her kingdom from the evil fae Malfleur. Meanwhile, the Delucian council plans to ship Isbe off to a covenant, where she’ll be a nuisance no longer.
From there, it all happens fast: Two princes of Aubin are killed on the way to Deluce. Isbe choses to run away and set her own path. Then, Aurora falls victim to a sleeping sickness.
You may think you know the story from there, but you don’t.
Aurora wakes up in an unpredictable, beautiful, and vicious otherworld. And she’s not alone. She’ll need to discover the secrets of the rapidly deteriorating world and the tale of two very different sisters that lead to its chaotic existence before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Isbe hears of Aurora’s condition and journeys out to find one person who can save her sister: William, the youngest prince of Aubin.
Hillyer’s take adds so much more depth to the original faerie tale. It gives the characters personality and agency, moving away from themes of obedience and opening up the doors to real relationship dynamics, magic worlds, fae plotting, dark armies, and all the fixings. Aurora and Isbe, though apart for most of the novel, are a true sisterly OTP. They both have impairments that separate them from the rest of society, but they’ve learned to navigate the world in different ways. Isbe has gained a profound resilience in the process and shuns tradition. Aurora is a bit more metaphorical, trying to be a people pleaser because her high but ultimately meaningless place in society means feels no pain but has no voice, no matter what.
Though the sisters (and sisters, in general) are a focus, we really loved all the relationships in this book. Both Aurora and Isbe find surprising connections in unexpected places. The romantic connections aren’t in-your-face– the girls were wooed, and I was right alongside them. They both found something unexpected while simply trying to survive. There’s even an excellent twist involving one potential love interest that’s really causing us to make grabby hands at book two.
But there’s also the strained relationship between Malfleur and her sister Belcoeur, which sets most of this adventure into action. The parallels between the two sets of sisters tease at delicious tension to come.
Hillyer’s description and writing style creates a rich fantasy world that feels like a fairy tale without getting too flowery. Things do start off a little slowly and Aurora’s journey doesn’t have as much action as I’d hoped for, especially considering she’s finally given more agency in that setting, but I really loved Isbe’s story. If you love a good adventure, she’s the one to watch, particularly once she’s on the road (or sea) to Aubin. The book also ends with some great cliffhanger-y setups and I just have to know how it all plays out!
REVIEW: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
Spindle Fire is only $1.99 right now, so if you haven’t read it yet, this is the perfect time to dive in! Order it via…
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
Winter Glass (Spindle Fire #2) is out on April 10, 2018. Preorder it now via…
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
Want more reviews? Follow the Spindle Fire review tour hosted by Glasstown Entertainment all week long!