Monday, March 10, 2008


Donna Jo Napoli, 1996, 227 pages.

There are all kinds of fairy tale re-tellings out there. This isn't surprising because we all love a new twist on an old yarn, and because original fairy tales are kinda creepy.

I found this Rapunzel (get it? RapunZEL?) re-telling very engaging. Napoli does an excellent job with pacing in the story -- somehow managing to sacrifice little in the way of character development while still bumping the plot along at a good speed. Like those original fairy tales, Zel is not all smiles and laughter. In fact if we didn't move so quickly through some of the story, the book would be quite disturbing. Fortunately, it ends up being a rich, evocative take on an often overlooked fairy tale.

This book reminded me a lot of the book Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. LWFC is also very rich and evocative, due to excellent writing. The two stories are both very dramatic -- in fact at one point (cliffhanger chapter ending) I looked up at Jacob and just said "Dramatic!" Of course the stories have differences -- Zel is a fairy tale while LWFC is a Mexican Folk tale. Also I must admit I liked the conclusion of Zel better than the ending of LWFC (though its ending was a great fit).

I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It is a quick but satisfying trip into a magical, deep, and sometimes dark world.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

100 days!! W00T!