It is rare that I reread a book especially if I remember reading it at least once before. And if I do, it tends not to be right away. However, Rapunzel’s Revenge Book 1 by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale (along with illustrations by Nathan Hale, no relation) was a book that I thought deserved a second read. This is for several reasons.
The first was that it was not flowing a hundred percent smoothly text-wise. I thought perhaps I had skipped a panel or two (I had), or a page (I had not) or maybe it was just not well written (it is well written, the second read helped fill in the blanks). And the second reason was well dang-nabit! It was funny. We have puns, visual humor, naïve understanding of things, ridiculous hats, and that old western charm. Finally, it was because it is deceivingly short. The book runs a “normal amount” for a graphic novel, but there was something about the way it read that allowed me to fly through it. Several reviews that I have seen also mention how quickly it reads. They also mentioned that sometimes the “grizzled old miner talk” was not always their favorite part of the book.
The story itself is a clever retelling of the Rapunzel story. The Hales also toss in a few other favorite fairy tales for good measure (Jack and the Beanstalk, either Gulliver’s Travels or The Seven Dwarfs to name a few). Rapunzel as a person/character is if Fiona of Shrek fame, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, and Rapunzel herself had a girl. In many ways this book is a bit more realistic than other versions. And that is despite it being heavy on magic. There is something about a 16-year-old girl coming into her own, being bada$$ that is relatable. Even if she has 20 feet of hair, can use it like a lasso and is named after lettuce.
Some of the humor is adult, therefore, a sensitive, or the really young, reader might not be the best audience. But also, I am sure they have seen/read worse (there is talk of shooting someone in the nether region for one thing). And Jack has a few “isms” or jokes that the adult will appreciate possibly more quickly. There is of course, fantasy adventure/violence (people are slaves in the mine, Mother Gothel’s henchmen are less than couth, there is a BFS (Big You-Know-What Snake) that Rapunzel fights). I would say ages 10 to 14 would be the best audience, but really any age can read or have it read to them.
The illustrations are busy but does balance things out with the panels that are less involved. Colors are strong and details get the job done and help move the story forward in ways text cannot. They might also help you pick up some of the jokes, references and show how this differs from some other versions. I do not know how close this is to a traditional telling, but the modern combined with classic makes it a fun and fresh read.