Spindle is a charming little self-published title by Tasmanian author W.R. Gingell. I received a copy of it through NetGalley, where I was drawn in by the book description and a surprisingly nice-looking (for self-publishing) cover image. It turns out that Spindle is a fast, fun read, well worth $2.99 for the Kindle version.
It’s a Sleeping Beauty story that begins with our heroine, Poly (short for Polyhymnia), being kissed awake by an enchanter named Luck, who managed to find a loophole in the curse. The rest of the book details their adventures as they work together to find a way to break the curse once and for all and defeat the evil wizard who created it.
Spindle definitely has some problems, most of which I think would have been solved by being put through a professional editorial process. There are a lot of adverbs as dialogue tags, which I find to be generally either distracting or redundant. There are a handful (but literally only a handful) of typos that might have been caught with just another once-over by someone detail-oriented. There is a lot of reusing of phrases and words that I can tell the author really likes, and I have some issues with a lot of word choices. The language often verges on pretentious and the book overall ends up being almost (but not quite) too preciously quirky.
All that said, I enjoyed Spindle a great deal, mostly because Gingell has come up with a great cast of characters, whose interactions with each other are interesting and compelling. I appreciated that Poly’s ending up with Luck wasn’t entirely a foregone conclusion from the first page, and I liked that she got to explore a couple of other romantic attractions with men who respected her. Poly’s adoption of Onepiece and her growth in her role as a parent to him is nice and gives Poly something to do and focus on besides dealing with her curse and sorting out her feelings about Luck. There are a good number of other female characters that Poly befriends, and I’m always happy to read about women having relationships that aren’t toxic. I particularly liked Poly’s friendship with Margaret.
Of course, probably the most important relationship Poly has is with Luck, the enchanter who woke her up. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, to be honest, because Luck is often a terribly annoying character. I didn’t care at all for the repeated descriptions of Luck as vague. It made him seem both boring–with just the one character trait–and it created a consistently comical image in my head of a dude just staring off into space all the time. It’s a poor word choice, in my opinion, and not one to inspire romantic feelings. As far as what we’re shown about Luck (as opposed to told), he’s often self-centered, distractable, uncommunicative, needlessly obscure, and awfully inconsiderate of nearly everyone around him. It seems like the relationship between Poly and Luck is supposed to be evolving over time, but mostly I felt like Poly just learned better coping mechanisms and became more self-sufficient. This is nice, but I found myself wondering why they needed to end up together at all.
In the end, the mad-cap high energy of Spindle manages to be more fun than annoying, and I’d recommend it as a piece of light reading that is a little reminiscent of Howl’s Moving Castle (the Studio Ghibli movie, not the book). I’m not dying to read any of W.R. Gingell’s older work, but I might keep an eye out for things she publishes in the future, especially if she gets picked up by a proper publisher who could help iron out some of the wrinkles in Gingell’s style.