This version of the Rapunzel story keeps the hair and the tower and abandons nearly every other aspect of the traditional tale. Rapunzel’s birth mother is a slave in supreme dictator Mother Gothel’s regime. Gothel’s witchery is a kind of earth magic that can make plants grow or wilt. Rapunzel’s companion is a shifty Jack (as in “and the Beanstalk”), and together they set out on a mission that is more Old West than medieval Europe. One more aspect remains the same, though: they all live happily ever after.
Most readers would have no trouble identifying with Rapunzel’s emotions. Her feelings of betrayal, determination to save her mother, and desire for revenge are easy to understand and with which to empathize. Rapunzel’s quest allows her to be a much more active character than she is in most versions of the fairy tale. The plot is internally consistent, familiar because of its ties to a widely known traditional story, but unique enough that it is able to keep a reader’s attention and even be surprising.
The setting is one twist that the authors and illustrator gave to the Rapunzel story. The book is set in a wasteland ruled by Mother Gothel, devastated by drought, with strange ties to the American frontier, demonstrated by the clothing, one scene of the story that appears to take place in a saloon, and the absence of modern technology.
The illustrations are integral to the story and terrific at capturing the characters’ emotions. Rapunzel’s red braids do sometimes look more like sausage than hair, but otherwise, the illustrations are a good example of the expert art that comprises the best graphic novels.
Good triumphs over evil, as expected.
- An ALA 2009 Notable Children’s Book
- A YALSA 2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teens
- An Eisner Award nominee
- 2011 Young Readers Choice Award (presented by the Pacific Northwest Library Association)
- A Junior Library Guild Premiere Selection
- A Cybil Award winner
- Winner of the Utah Book Award for Children’s Literature
- A Texas Maverick Graphic Novel
- An Oregon Battle of the Books selection
- Winner of the Young Readers Choice Award, presented by the Pacific Northwest Library Association (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana and Washington)
“With its can-do heroine, witty dialogue and romantic ending, this graphic novel has something for nearly everybody.” – Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
“The dialogue is witty, the story is an enticing departure from the original, and the illustrations are magically fun and expressive. Knowing that there are more graphic novels to come from this writing team brings readers their own happily-ever-after.”- School Library Journal, starred review
RAPUNZEL: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL by Stephanie True Peters
RAPUNZEL by Paul O. Zelinsky
RAPUNZEL by Rachel Isadora
Shannon Hale’s website provides a reader’s theater script for RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE.
Hale, Shannon, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale. 2008. Rapunzel’s Revenge. New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781599900704
Rackham, Arthur. “Rapunzel.” From Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/Arthur_Rackham_Rapunzel.jpg
Squeetus: Official Site of Shannon Hale. Accessed October 21, 2015. “Books: Rapunzel’s Revenge.” http://www.squeetus.com/stage/rap_reviews.html