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Rapunzel's Revenge

Review

Rapunzel's Revenge

written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale; illustrated by Nathan Hale

Who knew Rapunzel had it in her? All those years spent locked away in that tower, waiting for some handsome young prince to come along and rescue her --- wait, she didn’t need a man to get out of that predicament?

It turns out Rapunzel was actually a kick-butt heroine who had a feisty temperament and tenacity --- or at least that’s how a trio of Hales have envisioned her. Shannon Hale, a Newbery Award–winning children’s book author, has teamed up with her husband, Dean, to write RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, which turns the original Brothers Grimm tale on its ear. They brought in the help of talented illustrator Nathan Hale (no relation) for help fleshing out the story.

RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE offers a thrilling reimagining of the fairy tale --- just look at the cover to see Rapunzel looking like she’s straight out of the wild west. Inside, she’s thrown into even more outrageous settings, all of which work somehow --- and it succeeds because of its unabashed spirit. The Hales seem like they’re having a ball with this story, and they like to mix in generous helpings of other myths and legends to flesh out the action. (Also, a couple of other fairy tales find their way into the telling of RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, but it would take an evil stepmother to give them away here.)

RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE sticks fairly close to the original at the beginning. Rapunzel is a young girl living with Mother Gothel, who rules over the land with an iron fist (and a little bit of witchcraft). They live in luxury (or boredom, to hear Rapunzel tell it), with Rapunzel having no idea what lies over the giant wall surrounding their castle. When she dares to spy over it one day, and finally meets her real mother living in poverty on the other side, she incurs the wrath of Mother Gothel and gets locked away in a small room at the top of a very tall tree.

When her hair begins to grow excessively long, Rapunzel formulates a plan. With a clever guile, she learns how to use her hair like a rope, rappelling out of the tree and into the wild forest around her. And here’s where the adventure truly begins (as Rapunzel herself puts it in her narration, “This is where the ‘once upon a time’ part ends.”). And what an adventure it is. When Rapunzel meets up with a young scallywag named Jack, things really pick up. Both are on the run: Jack is a horse thief, and Gothel has put a price on Rapunzel’s head. To make things worse, Gothel has locked up Rapunzel’s birth mother, and Rapunzel is bound and determined to get back to the castle to rescue her mother and overthrow Gothel for good.

Luckily for readers, RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE is as clever as it is good-humored. The plot never rests for too long, keeping our two intrepid heroes constantly moving and always in some spot of trouble that takes all their wits to escape. Mining the depths of fairy tales provides a wealth of material, and giving this one a modern-day twist adds layers of personality to the mix. Believe it or not, this Rapunzel is so much more interesting to read about than what the Brothers Grimm offered.

Reviewed by John Hogan on August 5, 2008

Rapunzel's Revenge
written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale; illustrated by Nathan Hale

  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 159990070X
  • ISBN-13: 9781599900704