Title: Rapunzel’s Revenge
Author: Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrator: Nathan Hale
ISBN: 9781599900704
Pages: 144 pages
Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury, c2008.

I didn’t anticipate the whole sticking-a-sack-over-my-head thing.
Her henchman, Brute, used to give me piggyback rides. This time, being thrown over his shoulder wasn’t so fun.
We traveled for days.
It got pretty hot and stinky under that sack.
Brute didn’t let me see again until we were in a forest as green as Mother Gothel’s garden.
It wasn’t exactly the kind of place I’d care to take an afternoon stroll.
Mother Gothel had grown a creepy tree with a hollowed-out room high up, perfect for imprisoning a trouble maker. […]
So. There I was.
Nothing to do. (20-26)

Just after Rapunzel discovers that Mother Gothel is thankfully not her real mother, and has instead kidnapped her and thrown her birth mother in the mines, she is thrown into a towering tree and left there for years. Using her long hair as a whip and lasso, Rapunzel finally escapes and finds herself helping an ex-thief named Jack. The two pair up to rescue Rapunzel’s mother, but along the way they discover that they’re not the only ones who need a little help in this rough and tumble world.

It’s unique to see Rapunzel in a position of power, as she saves Jack several times. While there are nods to a few other fairy tales (readers find out that Jack used to have a beanstalk), this is not your typical hodge-podge retelling conglomeration like Michael Buckley’s Fairy-Tale Detectives. Instead, the Hales place the story in a setting more similar to a Western than Once Upon a Time, with expressions like “Yee-Haw”, gun slingers, outlaws, travel via wagons and horses, characters who share some aspects of Native American culture, and what could pass as a plantation cotillion.

I like this version that Shannon and Dean Hale have written and Nathan Hale has illustrated. The illustrator is quick to point out that he has no relation to the husband and wife writing duo. It’s an interesting thing to note since the text and the illustrations compliment each other so well. There are times when Shannon and Dean allow Nathan Hale’s drawings to take over and tell the story, which is unique and I wonder who came up with the idea first and how they collaborated to put it all together. The illustrations are bright and vibrant, but their coloring reminds me of a digital paint by numbers rather than containing the shading and tints that come from hand drawn artwork. I don’t know how true that observation might be, not being an artist myself, but that’s the best way I can describe what I see. It seemed slightly out-of-place that the map came 20 pages after Rapunzel and Jack find and use that same aid.

Overall, a speedy read for graphic novel fans and a good first exposure to fantasy fans who aren’t familiar with the format.