Rapunzel’s Revenge: A Chick Lit Wednesday (Graphic Novel/Comic Book) Review

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan HaleOnce upon a time, there was a beautiful little girl named Rapunzel.

Stolen from her parents by a vengeful witch, Rapunzel grew up in a world of privilege and perfection except for the wall all around her home begging to be climbed.

On the other side of the wall, Rapunzel finds out the truth about her life and its lies.

She is trapped in a tower and she does escape. A gallant prince has nothing to do with it. But her mile-long braids-turned-lassos might.

Now that she’s free and knows the truth, Rapunzel has one thing on her mind. With the help of her big talking, man with a plan, sidekick Jack (yes, that Jack . . . the one with the beanstalk, yup) Rapunzel is ready to right some wrongs in Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale (husband and wife) and illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation).

Find it on Bookshop.

Like a lot of readers, Rapunzel’s Revenge had me as soon as I heard about the premise. A feminist retelling of a classic fairy tale set in the American Old West? What’s not to love?

Some readers might be surprised by the depth of both the illustrations and the text or put off by the comic book styling. Yes, the book is geared more toward tweens and older children, but there is nothing wrong with that. And don’t let the comic book panels fool you, this is a humdinger of a book rich with enough detail and subtext to keep even the most advance readers busy (while the interplay of text and images can help readers on the other end of the spectrum).

There is an obvious juxtaposition between what Rapunzel narrates in what can only be called a “voice over” of the story and what she actually shows us.  (For an example see the section on page 34 and 35 describing Rapunzel’s triumphant escape.) This interplay adds a level or humor and depth to the story that, amazingly, can only come from a comic book format.

Nathan Hale spent more than a year creating the artwork for this book and it shows. Each panel is intricately drawn out so that the story jumps off the page. If you think the cover looks good, wait until you start reading the story.

Rapunzel is charming, Jack’s fast-talking humor make him easy to love, and the setting itself is so original that it’s easy to forget you might have met these characters before. Sometimes retellings of classic tales get it wrong. They’re completely off-base and make no sense or just a dry, pale, rehash of the original. Rapunzel’s Revenge is one that gets everything right.

Punzie and Jack’s adventures continue in Calamity Jack.

Possible Pairings: The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter, Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox and Lydia Monks, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Princeless Book 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by M. Goodwin

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