Kiss of the Spindle

Written by Nancy Campbell Allen
Review by Katie Stine

The titular Sleeping Beauty in this fairy tale retelling set in the steampunk version of Victorian England is Dr. Isla Cooper. She is an empath for shapeshifters, an embattled class of people, but in her spare time, she looks after her younger sister. In an attempt to gain some unchaperoned freedom, the younger sister administers a sleeping curse to Isla that has unforeseen consequences. Undaunted by adventurous research, Isla blackmails her way on board an airship (because steampunk) bound for the Caribbean to find the witch who made the curse. Shifters, politics, automatons, love, and a small monkey ensue.

While the multiple structural conceits may seem overwhelming, this charming tale is fun and easy to read. The heroine is as kind as she is well armed, and the moral of the story seems to be that no (wo)man is an island. If reality is too overwhelming, Kiss of the Spindle can help with some gentle escapism and a splash of feminine badassery.