- The Good: A spider-verse of sleeping beauties and snow whites
- The Bad: An unearned romance
- The Literary: Lots of fairy and folk tale references!
Zinnia Gray is a professional princess savior and fairy tale fixer, hopping between dimensions and stories with the help of a splinter from a spinning wheel. But she’s rescued so many damsels that she’s starting to wish these girls would try solving their own narratives for once.
Let me back up. In the first installment of this series, A Spindle Splintered, an industrial accident leaves Zinnia with a rare illness, and no one with the condition has ever lived past their twenty-second birthday. On the night of her twenty-first and last birthday, her best friend Charm decorates a tower in a Sleeping Beauty theme. The accompanying spinning wheel transports Zinnia to a different world, where she meets a spider-verse of sleeping beauties.
The themes are quite straightforward. Zinnia is trapped by her fate, destined to die young from a terminal illness, so she wants to save every wilting flower trapped in sleep until a prince awakens them with a kiss. Then, one day, Zinnia looks in a mirror and sees a beautiful evil face looking back at her. The Evil Queen from a Snow White universe asks for her help, desperate for a better version of her own story. Over the course of this novel, Zinnia becomes an ally to the misunderstood villain.
Once again the characters are trying to change their fate, but messing around in all these different dimensions has unintended consequences, so there are also themes about living the life you have and making the best of it. Which is good because it becomes clear that Zinnia is using her adventures to escape her life, neglecting her best friend.
I also really like that Zinnia studies folklore in school, and so she has lots of reason to include tidbits from the less familiar—and often darker—versions of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. In fact, the Evil Queen ending she’s trying to avoid is having hot-iron shoes strapped to her feet and being forced to dance until she dies.
Unfortunately, the romance between Zinnia and the queen feels unearned. Zinnia is immediately sexually attracted to her, even when she’s been kidnapped from her own dimension and locked in a dungeon, which seems out of place. This series is also very contemporary, with lots of references to pop culture,. Even though I really enjoy this series now, I doubt it will age well. Despite all that, this is a very sweet read.
Highly recommended for fans of fairy tales and Disney movies and happy endings!