Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer (Review)

Title: Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2017 (April 11)
Genre: YA Fairy Tales, YA Fantasy, YA Retellings
This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:

Ever since I saw the cover, and learned it was a Sleeping Beauty retelling, I wanted to read Spindle Fire. I was turned down on every platform  (Netgalley, Edelweiss) and thought I would only be able to read it once it released. I was pretty bummed: most people are enamored with Beauty & The Beast retellings…but my favorite fairy tale has always been Sleeping Beauty. I’ve read a couple retellings that just missed the mark for me. I didn’t think anyone would be able to do the story justice (without pretty much regurgitating the original).

I was wrong. And I’m glad I was wrong.


I have to give credit to this incredible cover…simple yet so much is going on. Kind of like Spindle Fire

I was lucky enough to win my own ARC of the book by being a member of the #SpindleSquad on Twitter and via Lexa’s newsletter. I was over the moon. Then I realized I better like the book: it would be horrible if I read it after being all excited for it all this time and then I hated the book. 

So that put a lot of pressure on me and I didn’t want to pick it up…I had read mixed reviews and I didn’t want to dislike Alexa’s book when I liked her as a person so much.

This is why I’m glad I listen to my gut: 99.9% of the time, my gut guides me to read books that I just internally know I will love. I’m so glad I read this. I realty am. 

But why am I blathering on when I should be telling you about the book? Sorry for the tangent! 


Spindle Fire introduces us to several POVs…but the main ones are our two sister: Aurora and Isabelle (Isbe for short). Right from the beginning we learn about each sister.


Aurora as a baby had her sense of touch and her voice tithed to fairies. She is beautiful and graceful but cannot speak. She cannot feel when she hurts herself and must be careful to check herself in case of injury. She is the Delucian King’s heir and is betrothed to Prince Philip of Aubin. She gets lost in her romance novels and she communicates with her sister, Isabelle, through a pattern of taps on the palm (a made-up language that they have perfected over years of being secluded from the world).


Isabelle, or Isbe for short, is also the King’s daughter. However, she is illegitimate. Her mother was sent away when she was born with all the other mistresses of the King when he married Aurora’s mother. Despite that, Autora and she are quite close. While Aurora lost her sense of touch and voice, Isbe lost her sight. She takes the blame for all that goes wrong to protect her silent sister from the council that “parents” them, as they have lost both the King and Queen and are both still under 18.

After learning about our main characters and their challenges, we find out that Prince Philip, Aurora’s betrothed, AND his brother were killed on the way to the wedding. The council brings the girls in to inform them that the plan is still on: Aurora will still marry and the alliance between the two kingdoms shall commence as usual. How? Fortunately, there is a third brother for her to marry.

And Isbe? 

She’s to be taken to a convent in Isolé at dawn the next day. After all, she cannot inherit the throne as a “bastard” child of the King, and she’s blind – so she’s useless to the council. The girls panic: they have never been separated before. Aurora depends on Isbe to be her voice and Isbe depends on Aurora to be her eyes. 

However, Isbe is strong-willed, and when her childhood friend Gilbert, a stable boy at the palace, offers to take her with him to his cousin’s farm instead, Isbe readily agrees. She can’t go live in a convent. She just can’t. She’s too wild and free. Before she leaves, the sisters fight…and before they talk again, Isbe is off in the middle of the night with Gil.

A map of the Spindle world, with the convent of Isolé and LaMorte

As you can see on the map above, the left side, LaMorte, is controlled by the powerful Faerie Malfleur. 

Aurora knows she must stay and marry the last remaining Aubian Prince, as Deluce is close to Malfleur’s dangerous lands and she can attack at any time…by marrying the Aubian Prince, she will secure an alliance that will help aid Deluce if Malfleur were to attack. She knows she must stay, but she knows she can beg the council to keep Isbe, too. So Aurora goes to find her only to discover that Isbe has already left…but she couldn’t have gone far, right?

Aurora runs after Isbe, but after getting lost in the large forest at night and being unable to call for help, she comes across a small cottage. She decides to take refuge for the remainder of the night, but when she goes upstairs, she sees s beautiful golden spinning wheel, something she has never before encountered. (Sounds familiar now, right?)

As Aurora finds herself entranced by the golden Spinning Wheel, she reaches out to touch it, and she pricks her finger…and feels pain for the first time. Oh, and she passes out.



Aurora wakes up in a strange land to a rugged man…who aims a dagger at her throat.

Meanwhile, Isbe learns on the farm of a rare sleeping sickness that is spreading across the palace…Aurora was flung asleep, and as she was taken back to the palace, the Sleeping spread to anyone around her. Isbe knows she must bring back the Aubian Prince that was supposed to marry Aurora…Malfleur is obviously the cause of this disease, and she needs the help Aubia promised to save her sister.

While Aurora is trapped in a dream world, Isbe must attempt to be brave and save her sister…without sight, without title, without her sister. Luckily Gil is there, as he’s always been…but when Isbe finds herself alone, she must do the saving on her own.


Is It Classroom-Appropriate?

I honestly don’t see why not…but I can’t fight for a use for it, either. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a great story and I enjoyed the different POVs (the faeiries, Isbe, Aurora). One in particular was stronger than the rest: Isbe’s POV, with no sensory input from visual cues, is the most interesting experience. You actually hear the sounds and can tell that Hillyer did some major research to write Isbe. I think it would be beneficial for students to see the difference in voice from a sighted person vs an unsighted person. Also, the challenges Isbe faces and her determination are inspiring. 

Unfortunately, this is only book one, and there’s definitely a cliffhanger. I don’t like using books with cliffhangers for the classroom. It could be used in a writing class for sure, to show the strength of the different POVs, but I can’t really see any academic use…as a standalone, it would have worked, but I would keep this one as recreational outside classroom reading. 

So I give Spindle Fire ★★★☆☆ for classroom use. Time to bring out Dumbledore! 

Hypothetically, yes, it could be used…but there are better choices. And you don’t want to torture your students with s cliffhanger…that’s just mean.

Age Range

So it’s not listed on Lexile. This doesn’t really surprise me because it’s not really an “educational” use book. Personally, there was only one challenge when I was reading it, and that was the use of third person present tense…my most hated tense of all. I hate reading present tense, and it’s hard to get into the rhythm of switching back and forth between the book narrative with past tense details, then returning to present tense when a character is “talking.”  So that’s a challenge. I would recommend a higher reading level for that alone. 

Content-wise, I think it’s best to keep for older readers: there’s some mature topics, but nothing obscene. I would say 15 and up to ensure comprehension and appropriateness all around. I’m better safe than sorry and I always err on the side of caution. Make sure the reader is accelerated or quite able to handle the POV shifts and the tense itself. If you have a teen that loves retellings, I would encourage Spindle Fire…but I would stick with teens.

End Result:

You would think after all that talk of tenses that I would rate this book lower…

I just can’t. Though I’m never a fan of third person present tense, I got used to it. The story was worth it. There’s so much going on and there are so many questions I still have…I can’t get the characters or the book out of my head. I haven’t been able to choose something new because I have a literal book hangover. I want to know what happens next! I need to know more about what’s going on! We are left at the end with a pivot point, ready to change the direction of the story, and I am left screaming, “WHAT HAPPENS NOW???”

Whenever that happens, I have to give the book ★★★★★. Or, in my own rating scale:


Now I know I’m actually in the minority on this. I’ve seen the Goodreads ratings for this book. Some have to do with the tense and some have to do with the POV shifts. Though I wasn’t a fan of the tense, I liked the POV shifts. Didn’t think I would, but I did. The story was unique and eloquent and I loved it…after my brain adjusted to the tense. If you’re impatient, this might not be the book for you. Read the other reviews and get a full picture. 

I, on one hand, loved it, but I don’t want to tell you how awesome it is and have you Curse my name to the heavens. Don’t want that at all.


Please don’t hate me if you don’t like it. Please?

What do I do now, Lexa? I don’t know what to do with myself until the next book!!! Argh! 

Ok, I’m off to go wait in the corner, curled up into the fetal position until 2018. I’ll talk to you blogger bunnies later! ::cries::

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79 thoughts on “Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer (Review)

    1. It wasn’t much for me either…I just have a huge knowledge base of movie quotes…I think a section of my temporal lobe (is that the right one?) is filled with useless trivia and facts…most dedicated to Simpsons, but there’s extra random stuff too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It apparently drives a lot of people crazy. It did when I was reading Michael Grant’s Gone series bc there were like 30 diff POVs, but after that series I have become used to it. It can take you out of a moment, though.

      Like

  1. I’ve also seen mixed reviews, but I’ve been looking forward to it for awhile, so I am definitely going to read it at some point! I didn’t realize there were multiple protagonists though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t, either. It’s really just Isbe and Aurora. You get to see a couple times from Malfleur’s POV and a random fairy, but it’s all for storytelling purposes. I think most of the time they were all useful. I can think of only one POV that was kind of unnecessary.

      Like

  2. YES!! I’m so glad you liked this! I’ve been nervous and excited all at once for this one too. Sleeping Beauty is in my top 3 fav fairy tales, and I too hate it when they don’t give the original any justice. Glad to know its so good! I can’t wait to read it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay!! You’re a fan, too? Mainly ppl love B&TB best, but I watched Sleeping Beauty so many times…Once Upon a Dream was my fave song for the longest time! And when she’s dancing in the woods and Philip comes up to take the place of the owl 🦉…I just loved that part!
      I do hope you like it bc I thought it was creative and the story world is so intricate!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do love Beauty and the Beast best lol, but for me Sleeping Beauty and Little Mermaid are neck and neck at second place! I can sing every song word for word on all three of them haha… I’m a real Disney Princess Buff 😉 .. I’m excited to see how they portray Maleficent!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, I’m tied first with Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty…I know most of the songs to Little Mermaid too bc I had a cassette tape I played over and over…
      I sing, “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has, everything?” And I can keep going, lol!! Also love “Poor unfortunate souls” to sing as well!!
      Isn’t it amazing what your brain can recall??

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review for this book Stephanie, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it as well. Like you I’ve seen a few mixed reviews for Spindle Fire but I am a massive fan of fairytale retellings, and I already love the sound of the magical world Aurora wakes up in after she pricks her finger. I haven’t read too many Sleeping Beauty retellings, there don’t seem to be many compared to other fairytales, but after you loved this book I feel that’s as close to a guarantee that I will as well! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, there aren’t many retellings that I like for this one! I read the one by Alex Flinn, and that was cute, if a bit youthful, but this one is so rich and imaginative!
      Omg, it would be so awesome if you loved this one, too!!! 🤞🤞🤞🤞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are a fair few fairytales I’d love to see retold more that haven’t been. I think I have Alex Flinn’s books on my to-read list still, need to double check that. Well hopefully I’ll be able to get around to this one soon then! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how much work you put into your reviews, Teach! You really do go all the way! I totally admire it!
    Even though this isn’t a book for me (and not because of POVs r whatnots, but because I just don’t do retellings for some reason) I really enjoyed reading your review and you know? I love it when a book leaves you with a hangover and ends with a major cliffhanger… it has taken you over!!! 🙂 Now, come out of the corner, lemme give you a hug and lets find you your next book to read! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ::crawls silently into the light::
      It’s ok? Thank you!! ::hugs while sobbing::
      You just made my millennia with that comment! Like, my heart melted. Apparently it can do that? 🤷‍♀️ Who knew?
      I have been doing a HP reread and I’ve been reading book four intermittently…I find Harry helps what ails you!
      You’re my blogger hero. (That’s why you’re my FB friend too. Bc you rock and I wish we were neighbors)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I did too! I am glad I go with my gut…it rarely fails me (only once with Stealing Snow, and I should’ve seen the signs not to read it: no approvals, very elusive, mixed reviews, NOT getting into it right away…or ever).
      I’m hoping if you do read this, you’ll like it. If you don’t, I’ll totally understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Five Rainbow Brights! I’m glad to see that, since I’ve been reading a lot of mixed reviews on this like you said. 🙂 I haven’t read it myself. I would like to. Just have to squeeze it into this TBR list. Fantastic review, Stephanie! I’m glad you read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Yes – almost went four bc of the present tense, but that just didn’t go with how it made me feel as a whole.
      I think you might enjoy this one. You and I seem to parallel when it comes to fantasy. I’d think it would at least be a four star for you.
      If you read it, I’ll be dying to see what you think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We do seem to rate fantasy novels pretty similarly, which is fun. It’s fun to discuss books when you don’t agree but even more fun when you can fangirl together. 🙂 I will definitely let you know if I read it!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It totally is fun to fangirl with a fantasy reader. A lot of readers I’m friends with outside the blog are more thriller/suspense/contemporary readers, so it’s fun to talk with someone who isn’t, you know? Or who incorporates more fantasy like I do. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s funny. Almost all my friends and book club members are into Fantasy. I have a hard time finding someone to talk contemporaries with. Because I equally love fantasy and contemporary. I don’t read as many thriller/suspense/or sci-fi novels. But I do really like them sometime. Anyway, long response to say, we can talk fantasy anytime!!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Oh, man! There are so many! Am I going to be able to think of them off the top of my head?
      The Diabolic was excellent. I loved the Under The Never Sky Series…I like a lot of dystopian science fiction. I should DM you some of my faves! There’s some really good ones but my brain is muddled and I can’t think (I have just finished seven modules on the computer about FERPA and Hazardous Materials for an interview with EduStaff…here’s hoping I do well!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You totally should DM me your favs, so I can add them to the TBR list. I have heard a lot about Under the Never Sky but haven’t read it yet. I’ll definitely have to check that one out. And yikes! That sounds pretty intense!

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Yeah, it was pretty boring! 😴
      I’ll def DM you some…ANYTHING by Lauren Destefano is good, too. Her Chemical Garden series is one of my faves, along with her last series, Perfect Ruin. She’s a poet with prose!
      But you got it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, thank you and you just made my heart swell three times like the Grinch!
      Secondly, I am surprised about all the mixed reviews and also not surprised. I would think there would be more “love it” reviews but then again, I’m always one to love something that many people feel meh about, and vice versa.
      Now I’m going to go float away from that sweet compliment!! 😍😍😍

      Liked by 1 person

    2. See, I couldn’t wrap my head around Vassa…but I had not read Vasilisa the Beautiful, and if I had, I think I would have liked it more. I was just confused the whole time…I was like, “A dancing store? Wtf?” 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. I’ve read so many mixed and positive reviews for this one that it’s actually made me want to read it more. Especially your review! I was never a huge Sleeping Beauty fan but I love how the author seems to have taken the original and put so many unique aspects into it. Plus, I’m intrigued by the fact that one of the characters is blind. I’ve only read one other book with a blind protagonist and I loved it so much, definitely a unique reading experience. That and the fact that it has faeries. I’ll read anything with faeries. 😂 Great review as always, Stephanie!! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You gotta love the fae!!
      Yes…the only part that made me sad was the ending bc it ended on such a turn…and then it was over! I need to start just waiting for all book in a series to release lol!! Then I won’t have to wait to know what happens next!
      When I see a bunch of mixed reviews, with really no negative ones but a couple really positive ones, it makes me want to read the book badly. I don’t always love the ones that everyone does…and vice versa.
      So I do hope that people focus on the originality of the story (the mute and blind sister, the vain fairies, the multiple POVs) and love it all. But I know you can’t win em all! 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right?
        And cliffhanger endings can be the worst whenever you have to wait for the next book! That’s why I ended up putting off the Shades of Magic books until the last book was released. 😂 Though the anticipation for a book can be fun too. It makes the reading experience that much better sometimes.
        Same, whenever I see a lot of mixed reviews and then some positive ones but no negative ones it makes me want to read a book that much more too. As long as there aren’t any elements that I don’t normally care for in books I’m all for reading the book and making up my mind for myself. But true, you can’t win them all!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I still need to read that series!
      Nope, you can’t win em all…I’m always hoping that ppl don’t stop listening to my opinion after reading some of the books I recommend…but I think that’s a common concern as a blogger.
      Cliffhanger endings are going to be the death of me! 😵😵😵

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You should so read it! The Shades of Magic trilogy is incredible, especially if you’re into parallel worlds and magic. 😊
        I definitely think that’s a common blogger concern because I almost always feel that after recommending a book lol. And same about cliffhanger endings!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, this was in my Spam!
      I love the narwhals on the map…and the story does mention narwhals, so there’s a reason for them on the map! I hope you give this one a read…and thank you: I try to be detailed! I want people to enjoy the book with me. 😊😘

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh wow, I’m so glad you liked this book! I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while but, like you, kept seeing so many mixed reviews. You’ve made me feel a lot better about reading this now 😀 Great review, Steph!!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Nice! It was really different, and I’m a big fan of creative retellings! I think some people were disappointed bc it’s not the cookie cutter Retelling they are expecting, you know? 😊

      Like

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