Special thanks to Sparkpoint Studio for providing a copy of The Bone Spindle for an honest review.

Leslie Vedder‘s debut queer YA fantasy novel The Bone Spindle is an exciting gender-bend retelling of Sleeping Beauty mixed with the feel of Indiana Jones. The story follows Fi (she/her), a bookish treasure hunter who loves exploring ruins and riddles but definitely doesn’t believe in true love. But things go a bit sideways when she accidentally pricks her finger on a bone spindle while out exploring an old ruin. Instead of falling asleep forever, she ends up stuck with the Spirit of Briar Rose (he/him).

He is a prince of an ancient kingdom who was placed under a sleeping curse about 100 years before Fi ever stumbled upon the bone spindle. Now, he has to rely on her and Shane (she/her), an ax-wielding, tough-as-dirt warrior from the north, to find a way to break the curse and set him free. The fun-loving adventure introduces readers to dark magic, Witch hunters, evil exes and even a mysterious witch who might just steal Shane’s heart. But even all of that can’t scare Fi more than the idea that she might possibly be falling in love with Briar Rose.

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Variant Cover for Leslie Vedder's The Bone Spindle.

I love a good fairy tale retelling and The Bone Spindle nailed it on that account. Vedder’s mix of Sleeping Beauty and Indiana Jones helped create an exciting world and characters. I went in knowing that this was a retelling but never felt like it was a copy/paste of the original story. It takes both influences’ best themes and feelings and introduces something entirely new and unique. While the writing is a bit basic, even for a YA novel, the action, characters and plot help make this a fast-paced, fun read that kept me captivated until the end.

What I enjoyed most within The Bone Spindle is the world Vedder created. The kingdoms within have that fairy tale/Sleeping Beauty feel with tons of ruins for Fi and Shane to explore. And explore they do. The action influence from Indiana Jones puts them in exciting situations that help add excitement and intensity. But even with the idea that this fantasy world feels like it is set in a medieval-type past, it doesn’t fall into the idea that it needs to have old ideals. There are no outdated gender rules or prejudice against members of the LGBTQ+ community. It was refreshing to read a story that didn’t fall back into causing tension with discrimination.

The Bone Spindle features a dual POV between Fi and Shane. Thankfully, they are compelling enough to follow with diverse personalities that make each of their POVs unique. It was great being able to explore their feelings in certain situations, their reactions and even how they express themselves gave each of them a distinctive voice that guided the journey. Vedder takes time to explore each of their backstories and how those events sculpted the characters I saw in the present-day story. For the most part, each feels like the true main character of The Bone Spindle, something I find that dual POVs sometimes struggle with.

Being a retelling of Sleeping Beauty brings along some expectations for the romance side of The Bone Spindle. I was excited to see that we were getting two romances, one M/F and the other F/F. The first, between Fi and Briar Rose, felt well fleshed out and given time to blossom as the book went on. We even get some chapters from Briar Rose’s POV later in the book. However, the relationship between Shane and her mysterious Witch felt rushed and underwhelming. It gave me the sense that providing Shane with a love interest might have even been an afterthought. I feel like Shane’s relationship would have been more impactful and investing if it had come in its own story.

Aside from the lack of investment and development for the F/F relationship, The Bone Spindle is still an exciting read. It is an excellent read for everyone who loves adventure, fairy tale retellings with unique vibes and romance. You can’t help but fall in love with the book’s magical atmosphere and colorful characters. I would love to see Vedder continue to tell stories within this world she has created and mix more fairy tales with action-esque vibes.

The Bone Spindle hits shelves on January 11, 2022. You can preorder on any of these online shops.

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