Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

I'm generally not a huge fan of graphic novels. I have nothing against them; I just haven't searched them out for myself. But when I saw my old librarians reviewed this one, comparing it to a graphic novel I read back in high school on their recommendation, I knew I needed to check it out, and I definitely wasn't disappointed!

Despite a life of luxury where she could have whatever she wanted, Rapunzel has always felt something wasn't quite right about her life in her mother's, Goethel, villa. Her mother places few restrictions on Rapunzel; the two notable ones are to forget about the strange dreams she has that leave her feeling sad, and to never cross the great wall that surrounds her villa.

Well, anyone who's ever read a fairy tale knows how that restriction will turn out.

Sure enough, Rapunzel dares to climb to the top of the wall, and discovers a vast mining operation and desolate wasteland surrounding the lushness of the villa. The mine is worked by slaves - among them Rapunzel's real mother (anyone who knows the original Rapunzel story knows how Rapunzel ended up being raised by a witch rather than her loving mother).

When Goethel finds out, she punishes Rapunzel by placing her in the infamous tower. Except instead of the traditional tower of bricks and stone, this one is made from a tree that has been magicked into growing incredibly tall with a hallowed out room far above the ground. The magic doesn't just make the tree grow, however - Rapunzel's nails grow so fast she has to file them down every day, and after four years of imprisonment Rapunzel's hair has grown long enough to braid into ropes and use as a lasso so she can swing to freedom.

But Rapunzel isn't content to live out in the forest. She's determined to get back to the villa and save her mother, and teach Goethel a lesson. In her quest to return, she pairs up with Jack, a boy who's had some trouble with giants and carries a lucky bean and a goose that refuses to lay any eggs with him, and together they journey across the perilous western landscape. They have to avoid Goethel's henchmen, and perform heroic feats for the local people - many of whom have been decimated by Goethel's taxes and her magical ability to make the land infertile.

I absolutely loved the witty dialog throughout the book. Rapunzel is sharp and witty, and has a keen knack for using her braids to get herself and Jack out of trouble. As Jack often says when the locals are thanking him and Rapunzel for saving them, it was really Rapunzel being the hero.

Apparently a sequel is in the works - I can't wait for it!

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