I doubt you can make out what the Newbery-like sticker on the front of this book reads, so I'll write it out for you: "This shit is not for kids. Seriously." Because it really isn't. In fact, this might be the most disturbing book I've read since Geek Love
, though I won't go so far as to say it disturbed me more than that book. But...
Well, the book has three endings. Stop at the first one and you have a slightly menacing story with a cute ending. Read on to the second ending and you'll find something a little horrifying. But read on through to the third ending, and find yourself in an odd state of terror as you learn something that Death from Sandman told us many years ago: Nothing is too cute or innocent to be dangerous. And it's once you reach that ending and think back on what you've read before that point that it becomes truly disturbing.
Stop here if you want to read it and don't want anything spoiled. Seriously. Because I can't talk about this book without going further into what happens.
At the end of the story, we find out that the Princess is the dangerous one. It came as a shock to me, enough so that I thought, Did I read that correctly? Surely I missed something
, and then re-read that same page or two a couple more times because it just didn't fit. And then I realized something else, which is that this book reads like fantasy, but is probably set in modern times. Did you notice when the Princess was looking for the kitten that the gates were chained shut and the walls were unclimbable from the inside? Folks knew how dangerous the Princess was, and found ways to keep her contained. And it gave me chills.
I understand there's a second book in this series that I'm interested in reading, but I wonder if it will be as effective as this one, knowing what we do about the Princess. That reveal, and all it means, gives the story its punch. Can the author and artist pull it off again?
The story is a perfect blend of prose and pictures without being a graphic novel, and the story is shocking enough to be memorable and get you thinking. It's a good book, but don't get fooled into thinking you're going to be reading a cute, passive little story. This book has teeth