Review: Carabosse and the Spindle Spell

Since I was feeling a little down this week, I decided to check out the final book in the Villain's Ever After series, Carabosse and the Spindle Spell. This book stood out to me because it sounded like such a drastic twist from the other books in the series. It's a high fantasy retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" from the villain's perspective, but it's nothing like Maleficent. The book turns the cold-hearted fairy into a bubbly and somewhat geeky princess whose kingdom gets caught up in a power struggle. It has shapeshifting dragons like the Love's Enchanted Tales series and reads more like a high fantasy novella than a fairy tale retelling, which appears to be the common them among author Sylvia Mercedes' roster of books.

Carabosse and the Spindle Spell by Sylvia Mercedes

No longer a scorned fairy who places a curse on a newborn princess at her Christening, Carabosse is now the princess of a magical kingdom that is protected by twelve dragon lords. Meanwhile, Aurora is the ruthless daughter of a powerful king who wishes to usurp Carabosse's kingdom. This isn't the first time that the "Sleeping Beauty" character is presented as evil, but it is the first version I've read where the fairy who cursed her is simultaneously presented as good. In Disney's Maleficent, both characters were good, while Aurora's father was the villain. Here, both the princess and king are presented as equally maniacal. After they usurp Carabosse's kingdom and attempt to murder her entire family, it's no wonder she would want to seek revenge.

The short format of this series hinders the romantic elements. The dragon lord Torald falls in love with Carabosse immediately after she hits him with the door by accident when he enters her castle for the crowning ceremony. This scene could certainly work as a meet-cute for a romantic comedy, but it was missing the necessary additional interactions between them to fall in love. He immediately pledges his loyalty to her during the ceremony, and the two become obsessed with each other. It seems surprising that a dragon who can live for up to seven hundred years would fall for a human in such a short period of time. If this book had been a bit longer, the romance would have been a lot of fun. I get the impression that this author is more accustomed to long-form novels based on the level of description and world-building that was crammed into this one.

I thoroughly enjoyed the high fantasy undertones of the book, which made it feel like its own original story instead of yet another fairy tale retelling. Carabosse lives in a rich world filled with magic and structure. The crowns are not only symbols of her family's power, but also enchanted relics that magically bind the dragon lords to them. This makes it all the more threatening when the Warlock King steals the crown from Carabosse's father and Aurora tries to take her own. It is only through Torald's undying loyalty to Carabosse and her own magical prowess that she is able to stop their wicked schemes. The concept of spinning spells onto a spindle is a clever touch that references both the "Sleepy Beauty" and "Rumpelstiltskin" fairy tales while still giving this book its own sense of identity.

Carabosse and the Spindle Spell is a fun high-fantasy romance that serves as a formidable conclusion to the Villain's Ever After series. Though I enjoyed it, I think the limitations of the series stunted this story's potential for growth. It takes place in such a well-thought-out world with such an intriguing romance that the short format feels out of place. I would be interested in checking out some of Sylvia Mercedes' other fantasy novels to see how she writes without these limitations.


Emma said…
Hi Lisa Dawn, I am a big fan of your blog and am always excited to see your newest posts especially on books. It is really interesting that this book has an evil sleeping beauty character. I have read The Rose and the Briar by J. M. Stengl, and that sleeping princess was just awful, but this books princess seems even worse. I look forward to reading Carabosse and the Spindle hopefully sometime next year. I am currently reading a bunch of books and one of them The Moonfire Bride is also by Sylvia Mercedes. It is a retelling of the myth Cupid and Psyche and its main characters Valera and Erolas are so interesting to read about. I noticed in your review that you would be interested in checking out some of Sylvia Mercedes other books and although I haven't finished the duology, I will recommend you read them anyway.

I am also interested in reading all the books in A Villains Ever After series. So far, I have read The Beast and the Enchantress by Camille Peters, The Sultan and the Storyteller by Lichelle Slayter (my favorite of the series so far) The Sorcerer and the Swan Princess by Lucy Tempest and am currently reading The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson. I love that each book in the series is written by a different author. I hadn't read anything by these four authors before and it was a good way to get introduced to they're books because of their shorter length. I have just returned home from college and now have more free time on my hands to read longer books without feeling overwhelmed with work. I can hardly wait!

The last thing I want to say is that if you enjoy Sleeping Beauty retellings, I recommend reading Kingdom of Thorns by Katherine Macdonald, A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn and The Enchanted Rose by R. M. ArceJaeger. The last book is a mixed retelling of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. Anyway, I plan to write more comments on your blog soon. I look forward to seeing your next post.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Eva,

Thank you for your recommendations and especially for your lovely comments about my blog! I posted on social media that I am taking a brief hiatus to move into my new castle (though I cheated a little with my last post about Once Upon a One More Time), so I haven't had much time to read or write anything over the past week or so. Hopefully, I will get a chance to check out some of the books you suggested once I get settled. I definitely want to make a post about royal home decor, but I need to wait until I get back all of my things first. Have a lovely weekend and happy holidays!
Sugar said…
I am reading this book and loving it! Regarding the romance, I thought it was cute, I took it as two young people who like each other at first sight, then Torald's loyalty and Cara's courage plus being trapped in difficult circumstances do the rest.
On the other hand it is true that a Dragon Lord lives long but according to my reasoning it made sense to me:
- Dragons live a long time, they don't measure time like us, the thousands or hundreds of years that humans feel for them are only a few years. I mean maybe to Torald his life doesn't really feel like hundreds of years.
- Since they live long and Torald's grandparents knew Cara's distant was easy to think that in physical and psychological development Torald is close to Cara.
- In other words, while I imagined the other Dragon Lords as men and women between 25 and 50 years old, Torald for me was a boy between 18 and 23.

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