What happened to Sleeping Beauty while she was asleep?
That’s one of the main questions Lexa Hillyer’s first book, Spindle Fire, asks as it sees Aurora fall into the fitful slumber she’s known for. Only the person rushing to her rescue isn’t a prince. It’s her blind (and illegitimate) sister, Isabelle.
But while Isabelle ventures off to find a prince to help kiss her sister awake again (Prince Philip, who she would have married, is murdered), Aurora’s pricking of her finger on a spindle lands her in a world where she can feel and speak again. (Both girls’ disabilities are caused by the king and queen’s decision to “tithe,” or give, those senses away to faeries when they were children.) It is here in this strange world where she meets a mysterious hunter and finds herself going up against a cruel queen—just like in the romance stories she loves so much.
The second book in the series—Winter Glass, for which EW has an exclusive look at the cover below—picks up after the first book’s cliffhanger ending left off. But now, Aurora and Isabelle have to deal with the consequences of both their actions. The same goes for Belcoeur and Malfleur, the faerie sisters responsible for each of the girls’ conditions.
Seeing as Hillyer’s next book will be diving into the world of fairytales again, EW spoke to the author about her influences, and what three things readers should know about the next part of Isabelle and Aurora’s stories.
1. Winter Glass will have its own set of fairytale inspirations.
While Sleeping Beauty and is the obvious inspiration for Spindle Fire (along with Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz), Winter Glass will be drawing on another fairy tale: Cinderella.
“With Sleeping Beauty, I really wanted to reimagine it because it’s a really interesting, very sexist story,” Hillyer says. “A lot of fairy tales are, but particularly that one because she’s so passive. She’s literally asleep, and it’s violating and weird the way all of these decisions and actions take place around her. But it wasn’t like I set out to do a Cinderella book. It’s more like I got to know Isabelle’s character and I realized she felt like that unwanted half-sister. So it felt natural.”
Of course, it wouldn’t quite be Cinderella without the iconic glass slipper (which is actually featured on the cover above).
“When Isabelle’s given the slipper in book two, she’s told that it’s the last relic her real mother possessed. It’s a clue to her past and unlocking who she is,” says Hillyer. “I wanted the slipper to not be about being a perfect fit for a prince, but more like, ‘What does it mean to fit the shoe?’ It’s really a quest for identity.”
2. It will be a tale of two queens.
Hillyer is intent on subverting expected fairytale tropes in this second book. Not only did Aurora wake herself up from the dream world at the end of Spindle Fire, but Isabelle found herself in love with the prince who was meant to save her sister. As a result, both sisters will be going into this book as queens in their own right.
“Aurora’s awake, Isabelle’s back, and both are ready to rule,” says Hillyer, describing the new status quo. “But then there’s this question of, how are they going to negotiate that?”
Isabelle’s not the only one who’s changed from her journey: Aurora has also come back tougher, having realized that she must take charge of her kingdom. This will be especially important as the dream world she was in has started to unravel, causing all the people she’d met and come to love there to be displaced into the real world.
“That’s a big part of her motivations in book two,” says Hillyer of the task ahead of the young queen. “I wanted her to be more empowered… She’s not satisfied to just be what she was before. All of her illusions have been shattered. She believed that the world was generally a good place and that her parents had made good decisions to protect her. [Now], she goes kind of dark.”
3. There will be a couple of different kinds of love stories.
Part of Hillyer’s subversion of tropes involves not only having the sisters be sure of their love for one another, but also ensuring that the next book won’t feature an extended love triangle between both girls and Prince William (Isabelle’s beau).
“There’s lots of romantic stuff that ensues,” teases Hillyer. “But at the same time, I wanted to make sure people know that I tried really hard to avoid any sort of expected love triangle. I wanted to focus Isabelle most on just one love trajectory and explore how she feels about that. That’s not to say there aren’t other people that pull on her heart strings, but I wanted it to be focused on one arc of love.”
Aurora will also be exploring her romantic side. “She realizes that love doesn’t have to look heteronormative,” shares Hillyer. “She realizes that maybe it’s not so easy to tell the difference between lust and love, and that maybe there are no guarantees that just because you love a person that they’ll love you back or that it will work out. It’s complicated. She’s really growing up.”
Spindle Fire is currently available for purchase here. Winter Glass hits shelves April 10, 2018.