The fairy tale of Rapunzel always seemed weird to me as I was growing up, so it wasn’t one of my favorites. But I have just read two books that retell the story of Rapunzel: Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli, and Rapunzel’s Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale, and I have a new understanding of and appreciation for this old tale. I also read an excellent article by Terri Windling on the historical and cultural background of the Rapunzel story. It is well worth reading, also.
Napoli’s Zel is a dark and psychological retelling for young adults. It is told in first-person narrative for each of the three main characters: Zel, Mother, and Konrad, the one who brings her love and freedom. With this type of narration, you completely understand the story behind each character, and the reasons for each character’s actions. It is a story of obsessive love, abuse, and of the redemptive power of love. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Alexandra O’Karma, and it was a powerful rendition of a powerful story! This is not a story for young listeners/readers.
On a much lighter note, Rapunzel’s Revenge, a graphic novel by Shannon Hale and her husband, Dean, was a lot of fun. Definitely in the category of a “fractured fairy tale,” this graphic novel is set in the wild, wild west, and Rapunzel’s long, long braided hair is used as a lasso and very effective weapon throughout the book. The humor is silly, in the best possible sense of the word, and I chuckled all the way through it. Lots of fairy tale fun from an author I always enjoy!
Two more books read for Carl V’s “Once Upon a Time III challenge!