Having never read the original version of The Nutcracker, I only have various (mostly cartoon) movie imagery to reference. Therefore, I am not sure how close to the text in this book is to that original story. But The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel is a version that seems to follow what I know from the movies. Whether it is good, or close or something altogether other, that is up to the reader.
Natalie Andreson has the basics of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story, along with a few additions to have a more modern feel. But it is the Nutcracker story with the uncle/godfather character, the parents, the siblings, toy soldiers, the dolls, mice, kings, and fights. Of course, there is less of the ballet version, as there is no music and dancing, but there is magic.
We see Marie loving the somewhat homely Nutcracker. We see her brother damage it. And we see their godfather (who made it and other wonders for the holiday) tell magical stories. We see Marie dreaming or really seeing, her beloved Nutcracker fighting the Mouse King. And we see why this feud started and why it continues. And there is the mother and father curbing Marie’s imagination/storytelling and how they treat the children differently. There is an afterwards by the author/illustrator giving some background on the journey they took to go from idea to the final “the end” at the end of the book.
While set at Christmas this has an anytime feel for reading. This might be due to the graphic novel format, or just because it does not focus on the Christmas aspect, just mentions that the children wait on Christmas to open gifts. The rest is more the story of a Nutcracker, royalty (human and rodent), a girl called Marie, and magical spells.
The setup is a traditional graphic novel format. The panels contain the story, but there is also a flowing aspect to their set up. The colors are not overly bold but not muted either. The cover is one that you can use to judge how the rest of the book will look like with the illustrations. But you cannot assume that the book itself is going to be as light or whimsical. There is a darkness to the story. At the very least there is the spell that created the Nutcracker, but blood is shown as well as mentioned. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is a fantasy thriller aimed at various ages, as long as you know your reader.