Spindle – Shonna Slayton (Review)

Title: Spindle
Author: Shonna Slayton
Publisher: Entangled Teen, 2016 (Oct 4)
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retellings, YA Fantasy, YA Historical Fiction

**I received an ARC of this book free from Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review**

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:


I read Spindle by Shonna Slayton, because I’m a sucker for anything fairy-tale related!


I’m also a sucker for beautiful covers…and this one drew me in. 

I have to say, though, that it was different than I expected…

Briarly Rose Jenny (or Briar for short because that name is a mouthful!) is an Irish immigrant living in Sunrise Valley during the 1890s. Her Mam and Da dead, Briar must care for her twin brothers and little sister. She works at the mill as a Spinner girl, the only decent paying job, and she knows she must become independent before her seventeenth birthday. Right now, Nanny (Mrs. Prudence) takes care of the children during the week while Briar stays at a boardinghouse in town, and on the weekends Briar rushes home to spend time with her siblings. 

She was previously engaged to Wheeler, another factory boy, who had dreams of returning to the Old Country…which is exactly what Briar’s Mam always wanted for her family. But Wheeler strayed to Sadie, another Mill girl, and left Briar with a broken heart and broken plans. Only Henry Prince can make her laugh: Briar does not want to get involved with him, though, because his family is notorious for living and dying in Sunrise Valley. With her seventeenth birthday on the horizon only two weeks away, and her frame in the Mill constantly slowing her down, Briar fears her family will be torn apart.

Suddenly, Nanny disappears and another takes her place. A strange woman that seems to come from nowhere and insists Mrs. Prudence left for an emergency. Then Henry, the dependable one, tells her he’s leaving for a trip across the ocean. While Briar tries to adjust, a mysterious peddled comes to town and offers Briar a beautiful wood Spindle: just the thing to fix her finicky frame. Since she cannot depend on Nanny or Henry, Briar must make a decision to change her own luck. 

What Briar doesn’t realize is that the story of Sleeping Beauty was not just a fairy tale…and this time, there isn’t going to be a happy ending…

Is It Classroom-Appropriate? 

Yes. I’m having a good streak with appropriate YA literature lately. As Spindle is set in the 1890s, it is rich with historically accurate references like the Women’s Temperance movement and the invention of the bicycle. The Author’s Note in the back mentions all the materials used in cresting the story…it sheds light on the potato famine that brought the Irish here to the US in the first place, and the discrimination against them once they arrived. NINA, or No Irish Need Apply, was a real problem when it came to finding jobs. Speaking of jobs, the life of a Mill girl is examined in detail, and I could see this book used more for its historical references than its fairy-tale ones. I could see a history unit using this book. It’s cute and it’s light…and I could see some activities that could even be done in the middle grade level.

Age Range:

Though most YA is located through Lexile.com for its scores, it tends to leave out A LOT. Despite the fact that Spindle isn’t listed, I would feel confident recommending this book for ages 11 and up. It’s not too advanced for a middle grader, and it’s clean enough to allow younger readers access to it. I would happily let my 12 year old niece read it…if only she liked historical fiction or fairy-tale retellings. Unfortunately, she’s on a horror kick and would probably throw this out the window.

End Result:

This one is tricky for me. I kept waiting for the climax to build as I continued to read, and it didn’t really get moving until about 70% of the way through. There was a TON of historical information, but sometimes I felt it took away from the fairy-tale aspect. It seemed like 70% historical fiction, 30% fairy-tale retelling, to be honest. And I don’t have a problem with that…but I was just expecting a little more focus on the Sleeping Beauty aspect. 

I’m torn between a three and four star rating: the writing was good, and the story was ok, but it’s not something that I’d rave about. I would normally go with 3.5, but in our lovely rating world, there are no half stars (and there really should be!). So because of this, I’m going to round it to ★★★★☆, because I usually give three to the books I have to push through. I was captivated by the story, but when I realized what I was getting was all I was going to get, I was a little disappointed  

So, in short: a great historical read, but don’t read it simply for the fairy tale: there’s not enough fairy tale to tide you over. Would use in the classroom, but only for its historical benefits. If you like period lit, then I recommend it for you. 


I do wish you Happy Reading! I thank NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC, and the book is now available to purchase!

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50 thoughts on “Spindle – Shonna Slayton (Review)

    1. Idk…are you big into historical fiction?
      Because though I gave it four stars, it was purely for readability. If you’re a fairy tale fan, you’ll be disappointed. Not enough focus on Sleeping Beauty, but a LOT of focus on the temperance movement and the era of the 1890s.
      So if that’s the case, then def for you! I kept reading hoping for more fairy tale. I was let down, but I can’t blame Slayton. It’s what I was looking for that made me disappointed in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was disappointed in the “lack” of fairy tale-ness..
      I think it would be great for historical fiction fans, or fans of light fantasy…but anyone who reads it for the fairy tale aspect is probably going to be disappointed.
      I was sad. 🙁
      But it was a good read. I can’t say it was a bad book, because it wasn’t…just wasn’t what I signed on for, you know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve seen it on YouTube and Instagram! It’s huge! I’m glad it’s going well as you had a lot to read! I haven’t read that series but heard a lot of good things 🙂 I’ve just finished Highly Illogical behaviour which I’ll have a review up when I either get home later or tomorrow 🙂 but still 3 books behind schedule on goodreads 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is a great review Stephanie, and I’m glad you liked this book. I’m a massive fan of fairytale retellings and this cover is gorgeous as well so I would have definitely picked this one up too. It sounds like a really rich historical story, I love the sound of the detail it goes into about that time in Ireland, it’s a shame it isn’t as much of a fairytale retelling as you may have hoped but it still sounds like a great book overall! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is. I couldn’t knock it because it was different than what I expected. So I gave it four stars because it did keep me reading. I love the history, and it does make you feel like you understand the conditions back then. I just love my fairy tales! Lol.
      Thank you! 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I’ve read books that were different to what I expected, they weren’t bad or anything, in fact some were really good, but it’s a weird feeling when you go into a book expecting one thing and it turns out to be completely different!
        I love history as well, I just love fairytales that little bit more. 😀
        That’s all right. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Christy Luis

    It sounds like a good historical mg/ya, but the cover makes it look more “fairy tale.” I hope the right readers will be able to find it! I think your review will help with that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annie

    I actually like the fact that it’s more historical fiction 😀 I understand that if you wanted more fairytale you can be disappointed thought. Anyway, great review as always 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve been sprung, friend! Sorry about that! I always forget to check my spam folder. Was there just the one? I wonder why it got put in there since you’d already commented on posts of mine… weird!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The historical fiction elements got me interesting. especially part when you said it mentions invention of the bicycle.
    But tbh it is not a book that grabbed my attention based on it’s cover or synopsis. That’s why I like reading book reviews. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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