Thursday, January 1, 2009

Review of Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Rapunzel doesn’t know there’s anything wrong with her life – a gorgeous villa, plenty of food, servants and guards, a powerful mother named Mother Gothel – until she manages to finally scale the high wall that surrounds her opulent home. Beyond it lies an industrial wasteland, starving workers policed by vicious guards, and… Rapunzel’s real mother, a worker dressed in rags whose baby was taken from her by Mother Gothel. Rapunzel furiously confronts Mother Gothel, who has her taken away and imprisoned at the top of the world’s highest tree. After five long years, Mother Gothel’s “growth magic” (the source of her power, as she can not only make things grow but keep them from growing) causes Rapunzel’s hair to grow to extraordinary lengths, allowing her to finally escape her prison.

Rapunzel takes up with a young lad named Jack (who travels with a goose who simply won’t lay an egg, a magic bean, and a number of other surprises) and they have an assortment of excellent adventures, greatly aided by Rapunzel’s hair, which she can use as a lasso or whip to great effect. All’s well that ends well – the intrepid duo rescues Rapunzel’s mom, vanquish Mother Gothel, and fall in love.

This works well as a graphic novel – the derring-do translates well to action-packed panels, as do the goofy visual gags. The setting is a fairy tale Wild West, and the sight of Rapunzel riding a horse with her copious braids coiled at her saddle like an orange lasso is priceless. The illustrations portray the humor of the story wonderfully, showing particular imagination in how folks are clothed.

Humor, both dry and broadly slapstick, bounces along on every page. There is plenty of silly banter between Rapunzel and Jack, and it only gets mushy at the absolute very end. Raging boars, snaggle-toothed and bearded bad guys, a ravening antler-wearing rabbit, and that ever-present goose provide non-stop goofy excitement, and Rapunzel’s hair is so much a part of the story that its eventual fate feels almost tragic.

Anyone who loves fractured fairy tales will dive right into this luscious tale, only wishing it were longer. Readers who enjoyed the graphic novel versions of Coraline and Artemis Fowl should also give this a whirl – boys as well as girls will like it, if they just get past the first few pages.

For readers ages 10 and up.

1 comment:

  1. Eva!
    Thanks for all the fine reviews. They help in seeing things not in a monochromatically either - or, but in the ageless complex terms - insightful to the human condition. Tomorrow, I look forward to your wit and brevity in '09.
    Happy New Year!
    %-) Picasso' cross-eyed way of seeing