Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Title: Spindle Fire
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Genre: fantasy
Series: Spindle Fire #1
Pages: 368
Published: expected April 11 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, Spindle Fire is an enthralling, wholly original reimagining of a classic faerie story.

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood, a Faerie Queen who is preparing for war, a strange and enchanting dream realm—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

Spindle Fire is a tour-de-force fantasy set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines, from a writer destined to be a major voice in YA.

Another fantasy/fairy tale retelling from HarperTeen, Lexa Hillyer's solid retelling of Sleeping Beauty stands out from its many counterparts due to its scope and ambitious storytelling. Innovative, fun, and far-reaching, this is a great blend of two genres. Told in present tense and closely focused on two very different sets of sisters, Spindle Fire incorporates the familiar parts of the Sleeping Beauty story and pairs them with inventions and adaptations all its own. A unique and creative look at one of our most popular fairy tales, Lexa Hillyer's detailed and original look at the story of Aurora (and now Isabelle) makes for a great series beginning.

Aurora is the crown princess of her country, and Isbe is the bastard elder daughter of their father. The two siblings share the narration of Spindle Fire; each girl's plotline is fresh, engaging, and distinct in both  voice and tone. One sister had her sight tithed to the fae, and the other had touch and voice tithed in return for gifts from the supernatural creatures. Despite their wildly varying circumstances and states in life, the two girls are close, even forming a ASL-like language only they can understand. Their bond is true and authentic despite convention and expectation, but still fraught and complicated. The relationship between the two girls is layered and important; it also provides the drive for most of the plot's progression. After the infamous spindle, Isbe's journey to save her sister at all costs is compelling and believable because we are shown the depth of their love for one another.

Contrasted neatly against the two human sisters' present struggles is the history of two powerful fae sisters named Malfleur and Belcoeur. Their messy past informs the present of Isbe and Aurora's current circumstances; the two opposing narratives are tied together rather cleverly using magic and a spindle. Without venturing too far from the usual path of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, Hillyer manages to create an extensive, intricate history for the two fae and then ties it to Aurora's sleeping curse. The effects of the two sister's deteriorating relationship are widespread; felt even in the world-building and culture of the present world of Isbe and Aurora. Hillyer spends a lot of time in Spindle Fire building or revealing the relationships between her characters and it makes their interactions richer and more meaningful, as shown with first Isbe and Aurora, and then when Malfleur and Belcoeur are involved.

Strong writing, solid worldbuilding, and great characters made Spindle Fire a very fun and fully entertaining read. This story shines the most when it directly concerns the relationship between either pair of sisters. Unlike the complexity shown of those relationships, I found that the various romances being set up for the princesses didn't really work for me. The potential is there for both Isbe and Aurora's love interests to become more shippable in the next book - at least if Hillyer avoids the pitfall of using a tired trope like love triangles.

Spindle Fire is a clever, very enjoyable blend of fantasy and fairy tale; the first in a duology, it makes for an engrossing read that is ably plotted and quickly moving.



  1. I just finished this one this morning and I really enjoyed it too. I didn't know it was a retelling until I started and I loved that aspect of it. And William! <3 Great review.

    1. William was such a charmer, no? I loved him quite a lot. I'm both scared and excited for what awaits in the sequel.

  2. I am so excited about this one! I've been waiting for it for months and I think I'm just going to break down and buy it. lol! So glad to hear that you enjoyed it for the most part. Great review

    1. Do iiit! I bought a finished copy as soon as it was out so clearly I am v impartial ;)
      And thank you!

  3. I've been telling myself that I need to give YA fantasy another go ... I love me some fairy tale retellings lately. Might need to go on my list. :)

    1. I would def advise this over all the other Harper YA fantasies, if you're feeling like diving back in. There are some duds out there!


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