Rapunzel’s Revenge & Calamity Jack

While I was visiting Ana last week, I borrowed some of her books. Well, in this case, some of her borrowed books. Not that her shelves aren’t interesting. In truth, they are amazing and looking them over will make you want to own them all yourself. The thing was, I needed some quick reads that I could be sure to finish before I left again, and I had always wanted to try Rapunzel’s Revenge. So there you go..

Rapunzel's Revenge - HaleRapunzel’s Revenge – Shannon Hale, Dean Hale & Nathan Hale
Bloomsbury, 2008
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

Rapunzel grows up in a large house behind walls. The house is owned by her mother Gothel, a woman with growth magic and the power to make land prosper or whither at will.. When Rapunzel ventures outside the walls protecting her home she finds out that Gothel is not her mother. Instead, Rapunzel was taken from her real mother at an early age; her mother put to work as a slave, herself growing up as Gothel’s child in a house of plenty but very little happiness. Knowing the truth she sets out to rescue her real mother, and take revenge on Gothel.

As I am sure you might have gathered from my rather inadequate plot summary, Rapunzel’s Revenge is a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale in the form of a graphic novel.  What makes it SO MUCH FUN is the fact that it plays with the tale and frequently subverts the things we have come to expect from traditional fairy tales.

A good example might be the scene where I for a second started to doubt whether my enjoyment thus far would be spoiled by the introduction of a hero on his way to safe Rapunzel. However, instead of turning this into a tale of a princess saved by a hero, love, and a happily ever after, the so-called heroism of the hero is challenged, especially his endeavour to win her love… You can read the scene written out over at The Book Smugglers.

By this point, there was little the book could do wrong for me. Here is a girl in a very empowering role, a boy companion who turns into a love interest but in a slow and satisfying way without taking any of the great character building from Rapunzel, and there is a very diverse cast of characters. On top of all that, the drawings are very colourful and just splash off the page. And most of all, the story is plain good fun.

Whereas I might have been a little hesitant about the title Rapunzel’s Revenge for the simple reason that I recently read Fables: Animal Farm where Rapunzel is also cast as a rebellious character, Rapunzel’s Revenge quickly managed to persuade me that I was wrong to expect anything less than a great read. The graphic novel combines both the joys of blending and subversion of fairy tales that can be gleaned from the Fables series, with a more bright and sweet outlook as well as perhaps a clearer empowering message for women. Definitely a fun read, and highly recommended.

Other Opinions: The Book Smugglers, Fyrefly’s Book Blog, Tales of the Marvelous, The Broke and the Bookish, Book Clutter, Reading Rants,  Bookworm Readers, Bart’s Bookshelf,  Becky’s Book Reviews, Yours?

Calamity Jack - HaleCalamity Jack - Shannon Hale, Dean Hale & Nathan Hale
Bloomsbury, 2010

Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

This companion graphic novel to Rapunzel’s Revenge tells the story of Jack, the male companion of Rapunzel in Rapunzel’s Revenge. The novel basically consists of two parts. First, we are presented with some back story of Jack and the many pranks he pulled on people, all bordering on the criminal. In the second part Jack tries to come to terms with his past and his misdeeds as he tries to fight the giants he angered and rebuild his mother’s house that was destroyed by a beanstalk he planted. When he ans Rapunzel return home, however, he finds out that a bigger evil than himself is facing the town he left years before.

In effect, Calamity Jack is about the shades between being “good” and “bad”, the ability of and the extent to which people can remedy past mistakes, facing your insecurities and fears and stepping up to help those you love.

The joys of reading Calamity Jack are very similar to those I found in Rapunzel’s Revenge. The story is fun and takes some unexpected turns, the illustrations are bright and colourful, and even though this is the story of Jack Rapunzel plays a significant part which made me very happy.

Nevertheless, Calamity Jack could not quite satisfy me as Rapunzel’s Revenge did. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that it is the second book and thus some of the surprising pleasures of the first one became more expected in this instalment. This leaves me with the question if it was imagined that Rapunzel’s Revenge seemed to play and subvert story telling and fairy tale expectations a little more than Calamity Jack managed to do? Somehow, to me Calamity Jack missed some of the magic of Rapunzel’s story.

Calamity Jack was still a lot of fun to read. However, I definitely enjoyed Rapunzel’s Revenge more.

Other Opinions: The Book Smugglers, Fyrefly’s Book Blog, It’s All ABout Books, Reading Rants,  Tales of the Marvelous, Bart’s Bookshelf, The Friendly Book Nook, One Literature Nut, Becky’s Book Reviews, Yours?

Once Upon a Time VIIRapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack count towards my reading for the Once Upon a Time Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. I hope I get to read something else for the challenge. Or, you know, post about some of the books I have read but have not talked about because of blogging failure.

* These are affiliate links. If you buy a product through either of them, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

7 responses to “Rapunzel’s Revenge & Calamity Jack

  1. Great exploration on these two books! I agree, such a fun and strong heroine–how can you go wrong with a Rapunzel who uses her hair as a weapon? I love how Jack is a strong male lead, WITHOUT detracting from Rapunzel as the female lead, even as the focus shifts between the two books.

    • I can’t believe I forgot to mention the hair as a weapon bit! And yes, that is EXACTLY what I appreciate about Rapunzel and Jack.

  2. I loved these books. I hope there is going to be more!!

    • More would definitely be a good thing! My head is trying to come up with possible scenarios as we speak. But I think I had better leave that to the authors ;)

  3. I usually include Rapunzel’s Revenge on the syllabus for my Children’s Lit course for elementary teachers. It’s one of my favorites. Oddly, I’ve never read Calamity Jack even though I love RR. But it’s on the ever-expanding TBR list!

  4. I love the author Shannon Hale..and I am looking forward to reading this finally!

  5. I adored Rapunzel’s Revenge, but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to reading Calamity Jack. Not really sure why. Suppose I ought to one of these days. Of course, after reading your review, what I really want to do is reread Rapunzel’s Revenge. :)

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