A few years back, I went on a big reading binge with fairytale retellings All were somewhat brief and young adult But the shortest, darkest take was definitely this one Napoli did an excellent job of really developing the limited cast of the classic Rapunzel while staying pretty true to the given motives in the original and giving us a very rich setting I read books in a very visual way, so when I can imagine a full cinematic concept for what I m reading, I consider the book a success This review from here on contains spoilers Now, I m seeing people say they didn t like it because it was dark and they didn t understand the characters And that s completely fine It s an opinion But, I think, contrary to what appears to be a popular opinion, the characters are made to be completely believable in the time frames given to Napoli from the original story Yes, the Duke is obsessive with his love for Rapunzel Why wouldn t he be He fell in love with her in a day in the original tale, as most princes do Yes, Rapunzel goes insane she goes from having access to a village that enjoys her company and open air to trapped in a tree with scant visits from her mother And Mother s role is amazing We ve been given so many possible reasons for why the witch of he original tale traps her daughter as she does, from spite to Disney s latest idea of greed for magic hair Napoli gives us a simple and very believable and sympathizing reason because she s a mother afraid of losing her child.That said, it is very heavy for such a short novel, and I definitely put it on the older end of young adult Parents if your teen has not yet read the Giver or the Lord of the Flies or anything by Shakespeare, you might want to hold off on this book In the span of two lunch breaks, I got to see vividly how two obsessive characters can destroy someone who is relatively pure in nature with manic love, because that is exactly what this story is about The triumph of the story is when circumstances help rebuild Zel s sanity, taking her from being a child, to a tragically mad creature, to a strong woman and mother The duke faces his own adversity for the first time, beyond that of simply not being able to find a pretty girl, and grows from it The tragedy is entirely in Mother, who simply wanted a child too badly and went about it in the worst of ways.Overall, I really do love this book Rapunzel is not one of my favorite fairytales, so the fact that I got to enjoy this so much was something pleasantly new If you want a quick read and lack the stress to be able to get into something dark and emotional, I highly recommend it. High In The Mountains, Zel Lives With Her Mother, Who Insists They Have All They Need For They Have Each Other Zel S Life Is Peaceful And Protected Until A Chance Encounter Changes Everything When She Meets A Beautiful Young Prince At The Market One Day, She Is Profoundly Moved By New Emotions But Zel S Mother Sees The Future Unfolding And She Will Do The Unspeakable To Prevent Zel From Leaving Her We will be together Mother and Zel ForeverSynopsis Women don t often regret their choice of pregnancy cravings, but a young Swiss mother no doubt does when Mother Gothel comes and takes her infant to raise as her own Biblio Babble All Hail the Queen of Retellings Fairytale retellings have always been super popular, but ever since the YA boom started in the mid to late 2000s, there s been a resurgence of them While most people are quick to name authors such as Marissa Meyer as the master of fairy tale retellings, I firmly believe that Donna Jo Napoli deserves the rightful title Retellings are always tricky in the sense that there s a fine balance you must stay true to the tale your retelling, but also you have to put a new, fresh spin on it Napoli accomplishes both objectives with such ease she makes it look effortless Not Your Mother s Rapunzel Zel is a much darker and grittier take than even the Brother s Grimm fairytale, because while you get the gory details in Grimm s story, you don t get the reason why In creating the darker backstory for the Wicked Mother and Rapunzel, she creates an entirely new perspective that will alternately make you recoil in disgust but feel sympathy for the character that deserves it the least the Mother.Yes, Mommy Dearest While the main character of the story is supposed to be Zel because duh this is her retelling , I would strongly argue that the star of the show is Mother Mother is first portrayed to us as a hyper protective, smothering woman who wants Zel to never leave her for reasons we don t fully understand But just as Napoli is deft at striking the right balance in retelling tales, she is equally masterful at making formerly one dimensional characters into fully fleshed out, sympathetic people Mother has her reasons for keeping Zel locked up in the tower all alone, even if they are horrid ones But Mother s backstory is one that will have readers slowly comprehending her actions, and even sympathizing with them at that Most of us know what it feels like to want something so badly it literally aches Mother wants nothing than a child that her barren body cannot conceive, and she s willing to pay any price for it even at the expense of her future child s sanity I never fully hated Mother, even though she should be an easy character to hate We re All Mad Here Zel is so much than the damsel distress here she was a great character study, Her change in countenance and mental stability is startling to read about Then again, if you were locked up in a tower for two years without human contact other than your mother, you d go a little cuckoo yourself It s best to characterize her as Before the Tower and In the Tower Before the Tower, Zel was extremely lively and spirited, always ready to make new friends and trusting to a fault much like a well known Disney Princess And while she s happy with her mother and their quiet life, she does wants in life then that In the Tower she is broken down to a shell of her former self, prone to babbling, self harm, and questions about the Mother she really knows Her naivet and innocence at her situation, and the heartbreaking realization of Mother s true intentions make her all the devastating of a character.Here Comes the Smolder If there s one weak spot in this seemingly flawless novel, it s Count Konrad He lacks the charm that Flynn Rider so easily wields and is borderline stalkerish Smitten with charming Zel the moment he sees her tending to his horse and requesting a goose egg, his only function is to ride through the countryside looking for her with the barest details known to him That, and eat enough Rapunzel lettuce to feed Bugs Bunny for the next century Seriously, I thought the dude was going to turn into a head of lettuce there for a minute As much as you want him to finally find each other so he can shut the hell up about her, it s hard to really ship them as a couple I think he was in love with the idea of Rapunzel and his obsession with her rather than Rapunzel herself, but that s just my take on it It s a very slight blemish in an otherwise flawless novel This is my favorite Donna Jo Napoli retelling for a reason She perfectly captures the true essence of the story with a dark and sinister twist to things And yet she manages to make formerly unsympathetic, heartless characters at least have some semblance of a soul, and fleshes out the rest of her cast to be so lifelike that it almost seems like they re standing right beside you While this retelling is a much darker take on the seemingly innocent Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Napoli shows with her haunting yet starkly beautiful writing how far people are willing to go to get the things they want, and the devastating consequences that are sure to follow. This story is deep and melancholy and left me feeling depressed Some graphic scenes are rather disturbing, and the sex scene kind of ruined it for me bumped the book into a mature category than is appropriate for its audience. Zel was a grim and yet interesting take on Rapunzel It was a barely 300 page book but it packed a lot and ended in a satisfying way I liked the way Mother was portrayed and how realistic Rapunzel s mental state was written I found three things weird though Konrad s obsession, which started immediately and should have had a sound reason, Rapunzel s hair ironic, I know , I think it couldn t have taxed Mother much to use her arts for getting to and from the tower once each day Rapunzel s hair growth made no sense, and third, the goose Wtf even was with that goose Please read the book, it was fascinating. Plot summary Zel is a joyous, innocent girl on the cusp of womanhood She has grown up on a peaceful and beautiful Swiss farm with just one person for companionship Mother More than anything, Zel wishes she could talk to animals and understand them Mother has a gift of her own a way with plants She can manipulate them to serve her purposes, growing trees and shrinking vines, raising all sorts of vegetables and fruits It turns out that Mother is a barren witch who traded her soul for a child when she could not bear her own Zel looks forward to their twice yearly visits to the town market, where she can interact with all sorts of people Mother looks forward to the time when Zel will have to make the choice between leaving the farm to start her own family, or staying with Mother forever Mother could not bear it if Zel were to leave the farm, and pours her heart into making Zel happy On their latest visit to the market, however, Zel encounters a young man, Konrad Konrad sees Zel s sweet way with animals and her unusual manners, and is enchanted with her When Zel calms Konrad s horse while the blacksmith removes a tick from the horse s ear, Konrad asks how he can repay her Having no desire for money, Zel thinks of a solitary goose at the farm she sits on a nest of rocks because she cannot have her own goslings Zel asks for a goose egg, hoping to persuade the goose it is her own egg Konrad is amazed at the request but takes the dark eyed girl seriously and begins hunting for a goose egg As soon as Mother realizes Zel s thoughts have turned to a certain young man and the unsure way he made her feel, she acts to separate the two before they have a chance to meet again Spiriting Zel high up into disused tower, Mother feeds Zel special foods to make her hair grow long At first Mother reaches the tower by making a tree next to it grow and shrink, but eventually Mother can climb up by Zel s hair Konrad, meanwhile, has been hunting for Zel for two years, obsessed with her and mystified by her disappearance Zel, locked in her tower prison, starts to lose her mind, keeping secrets from Mother and trying to make friends with the squirrel in the tree and a pigeon that roosts above her cramped quarters When Konrad finally finds the tower and watches Mother ascend using the golden braids, Konrad is able to use the same trick to get up, as Zel doesn t even realize it is him When Mother discovers that Konrad has found Zel, she breaks down completely and uses the forest to transport Zel, now pregnant, far away where Konrad has almost no hope of ever finding her again Mother throws Konrad out the window of the tower but at the last moment shrubs around the base of the tower spring up and cushion his fall, though they scratch out his eyes Her strength gone, Mother dies Zel is taken in by villagers who find her at the end of her long strange journey and starts a new life in a new country Konrad resumes his search, even blind, in this love story for the ages.Comments Napoli has done a fantastic job of re writing the Rapunzel fairy tale Zel is so full of life and joy in small everyday things, it is tragic to see the way Mother tries to limit her enthusiasm It is also distressing to read about how much Mother simply wants Zel to love her and to be happy with the quiet country life they have carved out for themselves, but by loving Zel too much she turns Zel against herself Napoli has written the book from the three different viewpoints of Zel, Mother and Konrad As Mother s reasoning becomes flawed and distressed, Zel starts to lose her own mind, cooped up in the tower with only a hour long visit from Mother each day Konrad, caught up in his obsessive quest to find the beautiful and unique Zel, changes from being a boy to emerging as a man as his search becomes arduous Napoli did a great job of handling the extreme youth of Zel and Konrad In this type of fairy tale, marriage at a younger age than is now commonly accepted was not unusual Without remarking on explicit details, Napoli crafts a love story that will appeal to readers of many ages I will be looking for of Napoli s revised fairytales in the future. The oldest versions of fairy tales tend to be horrifying for those of us who were raised on Walt Disney s magic I love the sweet happily ever after tales Disney tells, but the original tales are also very appealing One fairy tale that was always disturbing to me is the story Rapunzel The idea that a mother adopted or otherwise would lock her child in a tower for years is always horrifying Zel does an excellent job showing the love then betrayal that kind of relationship would have to have This book is filled with both beauty and horror, love and hate The sweet innocence and love between Zel and her prince is very beautiful The ugliness that comes with Mother s obsessive love made me shiver This book is not for children It is one I would recommend for teens there is a sex scene as is necessary to stay true to the original tale It is implied only and comes with vows of life long devotion This is much to heavy a book for my 10 year old, but I think a 14 year old would get a lot out of it I highly recommend this book for that older audience, but I will add a warning that it includes many of the darker details that the Grimm Brothers included in their stories It is also full of true to history details that are weaved seamlessly into the story The fact that it doesn t go overboard on the horror, it is subtly set in a very believable 1500 s Europe, and that it also includes a lot of sweet joy and love makes this a 5 star book for me. Ew, what a worthless book, the main character was so annoying I didn t care that she was locked up in her tower, and I found some of the things she did simply disgraceful I would never recommend this book. This is a story about Repunzel I think it is a lot like the original version, except for the ending Repunzel is named after the lettuce for which her birth mother traded her The mother who raised her was a barren woman who wanted a child than anything She tricked her neighbors into giving her a child through sorcery she received by trading her soul to the devil With this sorcery, she also promised to convince Zel to sell her soul for gifts as well The first time Zel meets a boy, her mother locks her in a tower to prevent them from ever meeting again She convinces Zel it is for her own protection from an enemy Zel stays in the tower for two years and begins to go crazy The boy she met searches for and finally finds the tower He comes in and they sleep together Zel s mom can see she is pregnant She rips off Zel s braids and forces her miles and miles away through the branches of trees When her lover returns to free her, he confronts her mother She pushes him from the window, using her last ounce of strength to catch him with briars, poking his eyes out Zel ends up in a desert somewhere with strange people Her lover continues searching for her and she bares twins They finally meet again and her tears cure his blindness.This story was so strange At first, I thought it was really childish I didn t like how they author constantly switched veiwpoints, though it did create an advantage for telling the story When Zel started going crazy in the tower, it got really messed up I was surprised when they slept together Butr apparently that is how the story goes originally I ve never read it Anyways, I wouldn t really encourage young adults to read this book It s kind of dark with no moral ending. Eh, I mean this is basically the re telling of the classic fairytale, Rapunzel That s all it was really I didn t go into this book with high expectations so I wasn t really disappointed Maybe fairy tales just aren t my thing I don t know I mean I did like this book it certainly was good and a captivating story, but it just kind of seemed to drag on Like Konrad sets out to find Rapunzel for days Comes back and is unsuccessful Rapunzel goes crazy, talks to animals, and describes her thoughts of slicing herself open with a sharp stone Konrad goes again and tries to find her Asks people if they know her AND THEN THIS REPEATS LIKE FOUR MORE TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF ABOUT 7 YEARS I mean this book certainly is good and a great story, I just gave it the rating I did because of the annoying style of writing and how it really dragged on in the end Things that I did like about this book were the interesting unique characters and how each chapter was told in a different character s point of view Overall a 3 maybe 3.5 star book.
Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children s and YA fiction She loves to garden and bake bread, and even dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, Taxi to make the neighbors wonder But dear dear
- 227 pages
- Donna Jo Napoli
- 24 October 2018 Donna Jo Napoli