Spindle and Dagger

Written by J. Anderson Coats

Along with wonderful descriptions of the Welsh countryside, lifestyle, culture, and language, this book is a story of survival and finding happiness after years of tragedy and horror.

After a warband kills her family and destroys her home, they then turn to fourteen-year-old Elen to hand out even more cruelty and death. However, by her own wits and clever thinking, Elen convinces the warband leader that she is sent by the saint of her namesake to heal him and keep him safe. So for three years she is forced to stay with and cater to her kidnappers and weave lies to keep herself alive. Until, one day, she is reminded by another of the leader’s brief-kept victims what it was like to be loved and cared for and she will do everything she can to win a free, happy life again.

I really loved this story and how the main character, Elen, uses her smarts and skills to be kept alive and well-fed, and somehow keep the warband out of the worst of trouble. And how, by the end, she must face the truth of herself and her horrifying past and the guilt she harbors over her sisters’ deaths and come to terms with it all before she is able to finally find the will to leave her trauma and the people who brought it upon her behind. and dig out a happy life alongside a friend. Though, with so much vaguely described adult content and references and occasional swearing in the book, it’s clearly meant for high school or older ages. But I loved it all the same and highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Natalie Dean, Media Clerk, Woodrow Wilson Elementary
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 9-12

Spindle and Dagger
Written by J. Anderson Coats
Candlewick Press
291 pages
Release Date: March 10, 2020
ISBN: 9781536207774
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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