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.

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