In this retelling of Rapunzel, our heroine is living in a world reminiscent of the Wild West. The evil witch who stole her is called Mother Gothel and rules over a large amount of land. Curious to see the land beyond Mother Gothel’s wall, Rapunzel learns that people are enslaved working in mines in a barren desert. Armed with her hair which she can use as a weapon, Rapunzel sets out on a mission. She teams up with Jack (oh, yes, that Jack, with the golden goose and the beanstalk) as they travel through the desert finding adventure and plenty of trouble as they look for away to free the slaves and remove Mother Gothel from power.
This is wildly different from Hale’s other fairy tale retellings and may not appeal to the same audience. Readers will probably catch on as soon as they see the graphic novel format (also, for some reason, it’s HUGE, which is awkward if you want to bring it places). I found the story a bit hard to follow, between trying to follow the flow between the pictures and the crazy new places and names. I’d imagine some readers would have the same problem, but it’s less likely if they’re experienced with reading graphic novels. While I liked the larger illustrations, the smaller scale ones are really low quality which I felt detracted from the book.
Great for: Rapunzel is tough. Her relationship with Jack is a partnership, not him coming in to rescue her from her life, which is a great twist to see in a fairy tale.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – Rapunzel’s mother talks about wanting Rapunzel leaf when she was pregnant. A cowboy says that he’d tell Rapunzel he was going to rescue her and that she’ll believe him because she’s naive and it’ll be “such fun” until she finds out he can’t really save her. It’s likely that younger children will read that fully innocently. Jack recommends Rapunzel distract the bad guys by doing “a sultry little dance.” She refuses. Rapunzel falls asleep with her head on Jack’s lap. A lady shows cleavage. Rapunzel teases Jack about another girl. A woman kisses Jack on the cheek leaving a lipstick stain. There is kissing.
Profanity – “darn,” “numbskull,” “swigger-jiggered,” “dratted,” “scared spitless” which I’ve now seen twice in place of a ruder phrase. Rapunzel told Gothel to “go to…someplace less nice” (those are the words used). “tarnation,” “holy beans,” “heck,” “stupid,” “dag-nabit”, “in a pig’s eye,” “evil-eyed, scum-guzzling rat sneak,” “rumdum,”
Death, Violence and Gore – Rapunzel smacks into a wall while trying to reach the top of it. Her mother is hit with the butt of a gun. Her father was killed in the mines. Rapunzel has a bag put over her head and is taken deep into the forest. Rapunzel lassos and kills a bird for food. A wild boar is shot out from under her. Many people carry weapons and guns are used. Rapunzel asks a man if he’s going to trick her into breaking the law and then leave her to take the blame and hang for the crime. Rapunzel jokes that she’s hungry enough to eat a horse and chase the rider with a fork. There’s continued threat of being hanged. Rapunzel kicks a door into a jailor. There is danger from a large pack of coyotes, they are driven back by fire. Giant scary snake that ate Hansel, is killed and eaten. She strangles a man with her hair nearly to the point of passing out. Someone is slammed into a wall. Brute is ordered to kill people.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A guard smokes a cigarette.
Frightening or Intense Things – Well, mother Gothel is pretty evil. Her empire is run by slaves. Rapunzel is nearly attacked by a wild cat of some sort.