This month’s fantasy book review is a little late. Time has a habit of slipping by… But enough of that. Time to focus on the main event, that is to say, the book review!
Today’s novel is a graphic novel, Castle Waiting, written and illustrated by the talented Linda Medley.
I came across Castle Waiting years ago, when it first appeared in my library. A few pages in, I knew I’d found my new favorite fairy tale story. My sister and I agree it’s one of the best fairy tale stories we’ve ever read, not to mention one of the most amazing graphic novels in terms of illustrations. I cannot express how much I love this book.
The blurb: Castle Waiting tells the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. 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.
As a life-long lover of fairy tales, that blurb alone would have me picking up the book. The story itself, however? The first time I read it, I devoured it in one sitting. And every time after that, same problem. Earlier this week, when I read it again for nostalgia’s sake, I was up until 2am finishing the book because I couldn’t put it down.
The book itself is made up of a series of interconnected stories. As the blurb explains, you first learn how the castle came to be abandoned (well, mostly), and slowly some of the stories of the current residents are unfolded in subsequent tales. There are allusions to famous fairy tales and others that are more obscure, but the stories themselves are fresh and engaging, from Jain’s adventures that lead her to the castle, to Chess and Rackham’s not-so-boring trip for supplies, to the story of how a bearded nun came to be at the castle.
The characters are vivid, some mostly good, some mostly bad, and some in-between. They leap off the pages as the stories unfold. There are heart-warming moments, tearful moments, and moments where you hold your breath and flip the page to find out what happens.
In other words? I can’t think of any downsides to this book, other than the fact it doesn’t go on for another 500 pages–thankfully there’s a volume II! If you love graphic novels and fairy tales, definitely check your local library for a copy. Or your local bookstore. Or order it online–I’m currently waiting for volume II to arrive, since I just found out that it was republished with more chapters!
Linda Medley, the author, is currently working on volume III, and has a Patreon page as well as GoFundMe page right now for funding the project. (Please note that I have no affiliation with Linda, I’m simply a huge fan of hers.)
Have you read Castle Waiting? Or do you know of other graphic novel series similar to it? Let me know–I’m always ready to read another great fairy tale!