By Neil Gaiman
Harper, 2015. 66 pages. Young Adult
Neil Gaiman's newest newest fairy tale is one part Snow White, one part Sleeping Beauty, and one hundred percent absorbing. On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets off with three of her dwarven subjects to investigate the cause of a mysterious sleeping plague that's sweeping across a neighboring kingdom. As if a sleeping-plague wasn't odd enough, the sleepers are capable of talking in their sleep and lumbering after the travelers, almost zombie-like.
The tale's biggest twist lies in the Queen's discovery of the spindle-pricked maiden who, as the key to the sleeping plague, waits to be awakened . . .
While the story leaves nothing to be desired -- Gaiman's storytelling is always masterful -- it's Chris Riddell's gilt-adorned illustrations that truly steal the show. While I had part of this story read aloud to me, I kept stopping the reader to admire the panels, and to take in the detail in the Queen's dress, or to point out some of Riddell's subtle humor in the art. This is not only a book to read, but one to savor and treasure.