This graphic novel is a retelling of the sleeping beauty tale, with whimsical details, heart, and a wonderful sense of humor. I had never heard of this series until I read about it a month or two ago in Nymeth's irresistible review (thanks, Nymeth!). In this version of the fairytale, the king and queen are desperate for a child, and finally the king travels to consult some wise woman for help. His mission succeeds, and the queen in due course delivers a lovely baby girl.
However, the sister of the wise women, an appropriately evil and selfish witch named Mald, is incensed that the king and queen did not come to her for advice. It is this insult that brings Mald to the baby's christening. As in the traditional fairytale, all the special gifts of the wise women but one have been given when Mald shows up, so the very youngest wise woman saves the day by changing the curse enough to save the princess's life. Unfortunately the youngest wise woman's original wish was going to be wisdom, and it becomes immediately apparent that the princess could certainly have used some!
This initial story sets the scene for the subsequent books in the Castle Waiting series. The story itself is very short, and following it are some extras, such as drawings and descriptions of the main characters, fun writing activities, children's literature resources, and - my favorite - a section about comic-book-style drawing, complete with how to draw different kinds of speech and thought bubbles in order to convey particular emotions. I very much enjoyed this fairytale graphic novel, with its very interesting cast of characters (I particularly loved the princess's ladies in waiting), humorous dialog and artwork that perfectly complements the text and themes. I'm looking forward to reading more of the Castle Waiting series to see what happens next at the forgotten castle.
Books in the Castle Waiting series:
1. The Curse of Brambly Hedge
2. The Lucky Road
Castle Waiting: The Curse of Brambly Hedge by Linda Medley (Olio Press, 2002)