Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Publication: Fantagraphics Books (May 31, 2006), Hardback, 472pp / ISBN 1560977477
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Find @ Amazon
Read: November 2009
I recently discovered a whole shelf full of graphic novels at the library where I work. I had no idea it was there! It’s hidden by comic book theory/nonfiction/etc books and I tend to skim over those kind of books, so I’m not too surprised I didn’t notice before…but I’m totally going to be haunting that section of the floor now. There’s a ton of good graphic novels there, including Castle Waiting.
(I’m getting much better at segueing into a review, don’t ya think? Maybe?)
Summary from Amazon:
A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening story, “The Brambly Hedge,” tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.
The art in Castle Waiting is almost minimalist, but it’s extremely well-done and very pleasing on the eye. And there are lots of little things to notice if you pay a little bit of attention! For instance:
Love the little smile!
Even better than the art, though, is the writing! It’s extremely fun, and I love the references to other fairy tales and books. Like! Green Eggs and Ham, Puss in Boots…bearded ladies! Though that last one isn’t really a fairy tale. But it’s still awesome! I don’t ever remember reading a story featuring a bearded women before, and Castle Waiting features several of them. The other characters are just as fun, especially Jain, a former Lady-with-a-capital-L who runs away to the castle to escape her horrid husband. She’s sassy and determined and brave, as are all of the women in Castle Waiting, actually.
My only complaint is that it doesn’t feel like a complete book. Each story in Castle Waiting is like a tiny glimpse into the overall world, and so they don’t necessarily have to follow a straight line from start to finish. That’s why it can start with a Sleeping Beauty story in pre-Castle Waiting times and then skip forward 100+ years, change main characters, and no one minds (or, at least I didn’t mind). But! Jain’s story seemed cut off. It starts with her running away, follows her to the castle where she gives birth to her kid, and then shows her life in the castle from then on. We get a bit of her background in a flashback sequence, but where’s the rest of her story? Her baby wasn’t her husband’s– so who’s the father? I’m really itching to know, and to not have that explanation in this volume is really irritating.
I THINK there’s more issues out there, but I’m not sure where to get them. This collection of Castle Waiting issues was published in 2006, and according to Wikipedia Ms Medley has been putting out more issues as of 2008. I’m for sure going to have to track them down, though, because I seriously want to know what else happens in the world of Castle Waiting!
If you like the sort of alternate take on fairy tales that people like Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean do, then you’ll really like this book.