BINGO – READER’S CHOICE/WHITE WHALE (I’m still planning on reading my original White Whale choice, but I just don’t have the brain space at the moment)
Briar Rose, prince of the Kingdom of Andar, is born on the verge of death. His mother reaches out to a powerful witch, the Spindle Witch, to use her magic to save her son in exchange for sharing knowledge of terrible and forbidden magic. The Spindle Witch saves the prince, but the queen walks back on her promise. Seeking revenge, the Spindle Witch curses Briar and the entire Kingdom to ruin; she raises a terrible army, but the three Great Witches of Andar sacrifice themselves to save as many as they can. The castle, including Briar, is cast into an eternal slumber and a great forest of roses rises in defense. The curse of the Spindle Witch can only be broken by the kiss of girl. Generations later, two treasure hunters, Fi and Shane, find themselves wrapped up in the curse themselves, seeking to break the curse and gain some treasure along the way.
Fi and Shane bring very different skill sets to treasure hunting. Fi comes from high society, born of two historians. She is a trained historian herself who relies on her intelligence, quick wit, and problem solving skills to solve traps and find her version treasure: old texts, ancient artifacts, and pieces of history. Shane is the first born of War King, heir to the throne. She is all brawn and muscle, and she fights, barrels, and forces her way through every obstacle to win her version of treasure: gold and money and jewels. Vedder writes these characters to be very skilled in what they bring to treasure hunting but is also careful to balance those characters so that they aren’t Mary Sues. Fi, though intelligent and clever, is haunted by a former relationship that keeps her guarded and prevents her from forming real relationships. Shane, though an excellent fighter and stronger than most, is stubborn and bull-headed.
The plot itself is very, very similar to the fairy tales that you already know. Witch’s curse. A kingdom’s heir cursed to sleep. Adventure through dangerous lands. Booby traps. Ruins. All of the staples that you would expect in a story like this are there. And, you know what? I’m fine with it because the main characters Fi and Shane are just so much fun. Their characterization is fully formed, and their dialogue with each other is a delight. They quickly settle in to talking to each other like sisters who love and care for each other but still give each other a hard time.
The Bone Spindle is told through alternating third person narration primarily focused on Shane and Fi. For the most part, this narration style works. We never get bogged down with one character’s opinions or inner monologue. This narration style also allows Vedder to dip into Fi’s and Shane’s past and the experiences that inform who they are today. These moments are well balance with the current action of the plot, so I never felt like I was losing the thread of the novel. There are also a few chapters that focus on Briar which I felt detracted from the over all story. I didn’t feel that we learned anything from those chapters that we could not have learned from interactions between Briar, Fi, and Shane in one of their chapters.
I definitely am looking forward to future installments in this series.