A royal damsel, finding herself in distress, decides to save the day—and not one, but two kingdoms.
Clad almost entirely in bubble-gum pink, with artfully windblown scarlet tresses and pinkish-brown skin, Princess Artemisia of Beldora at first glance seems to be a typical princess—until she throws a pair of scissors through a darling songbird she identifies as a spy. The princess is awaiting a proposal from pale-skinned Prince Pete, a nice guy but not much of a fighter. The scrappy princess is soon kidnapped by the monstrous Lord Badlug, who killed her mother and now imprisons her in his castle in his kingdom, Grimoire. Rather than waiting for her prince to come, she vows to free herself and save both her own kingdom and Grimoire. Artemisia finds unexpected allies in Badlug's lands: the rightful prince of Grimoire, a black man; his on-again,off-again monster boyfriend; and a kindhearted gorgon who stuns but can’t petrify. Together they seek to defeat Badlug and his monsters. Their medieval-ish world is evinced through an unabashedly vibrant palette of candy-tinged hues among neatly delineated panels. There is a diverse mix of skin tones, genders, orientations, and ages among both humans and monsters; this motley crew gives a broad range of readers someone to identify with and to root for. The conceit of the princess saving the day may not be entirely new, but don't let that be a deterrent: Wheeler's take is offbeat and fresh.
Quirky, unconventional, and a lot of fun. (Graphic fantasy. 12 & up)