Review: “Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair” by Wendy Mass

The first volume in the Twice Upon a Time series is Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair.  Its author,Wendy Mass, puts a witty twist on the fairy tale Rapunzel in her novel but includes all the magic of the original.

Rapunzel is a commoner living happily with her parents.  On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Rapunzel is kidnapped by an evil witch named Mother Gothel in exchange for her father’s past bargain for rapunzel, a.k.a. rampion.  The story continues with Rapunzel being locked in a high tower away from human eyes in the middle of a great forest.  She is all alone and helpless.  At least, her captivity appears to be like that.  Rapunzel endures her captivity bravely with her kitten, Sir Kitty, and her newfound friend Steven, a “green creature” who cooks her meals and takes care of Rapunzel while working for Mother Gothel.  However, this narrative is two-sided, meaning that Rapunzel’s version of her story is alternated with Prince Benjamin’s tale.

Benjamin is a very unusual thirteen year-old prince, from his use of spectacles to his love for the arts and his hatred of sports.  His parents dictate his life mostly to his dislikes, like making him go hunting or engaging him to a princess he has never met.  With his best friend Andrew, a page training to be a squire, and his fourteen year-old cousin Prince Elkin, Prince Benjamin handles his strict life pretty well.  When his mission to help a villager goes awry, the advice of an old hermit/artist and lovely singing echoing through the forest like a vocal compass lead Benjamin to Rapunzel.  Since any romance within the classic tale has not been repeated in Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair, the author’s sense of humor shines brightly in the story instead.  Magical world or not, Rapunzel and Prince Benjamin are young adults who deal with their problems practically.  Rapunzel has never been retold in such a realistic way before, despite the re-appearance of magical elements, e.g. Mother Gothel being a witch, the bewitchment of Steven and Rapunzel’s parents, and the mystery of Rapunzel’s rapidly growing hair solved by the use of magical hair tonic.  Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair is not only an entertaining and humorous take on a classic but also a splendid beginning to the Twice Upon a Time series.

Original review: Part 1: Wendy Mass joins the rank of fairy tale re-inventors,


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