Castle Waiting, Vol. 1 – by Linda Medley
What a great find! I’m always looking for high-quality graphic novels, and I frequently feel like I’ve already read all the ones that might interest me at the library, so I’m pleasantly surprised when I discover something like this. I usually prefer artwork that’s in color, but these drawings are lovely, and the black and white didn’t bother me at all. I actually color illustrations would have detracted from the story.
Castle Waiting begins with the familiar story of Sleeping Beauty, but continues on past the happy ending, staying with the castle rather than the princess. The castle becomes a kind of safe haven for people in need of help. The next part of the story follows Lady Jain on her journey to find Castle Waiting, and the final section is a story within a story, as one of the castle’s inhabitants tells the tale of how she joined the circus and then an abbey of rather-unorthodox bearded nuns, before arriving at the castle herself.
Funny and clever, Castle Waiting is full of fairy tale tropes and references while maintaining its own unique identity. In one of the blurbs on the back of the book, Publishers Weekly describes it as “a modern, feminist Chaucer,” which I think is actually fairy accurate. Though the setting is medeival, the language is modern, and it certainly emphasizes tolerance and contains a string of strong female characters taking charge of their own lives. There is no one clear plot, but rather a meandering string of connected stories, and yet it still manages to be engrossing. This is a thoroughly delightful book and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in fantasy and fairy tales.