Asher collaborates with Freeburg and Stokely for a new take on the mysterious medieval tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin.”
White, red-haired Maggie feels isolated in her village of Hameln. Deaf since childhood, she speaks and reads lips to communicate but feels lonely due to the callousness of the townspeople. Her only solace is telling stories to her loving guardian, Agathe, and dreaming of romance. Prejudice isn’t the only problem in Hameln—the village is overrun with rats that destroy the village’s resources and rapidly spread disease. Things play out much as in the original tale with the addition of a romance that ends in tragedy—and a twist on the familiar ending. Unfortunately, the representation of disability lacks attention to detail; there are multiple panels in which a character is not in Maggie’s sight lines but Maggie responds as if she has read their lips. Stokely’s art is otherwise friendly and approachable, full of earth tones and individually rendered characters. Framing the graphic novel with an opening authors’ note titled “Seeking History in a Legend,” Asher and Freeburg attempt to situate their retelling as revelatory: “And we’ve waited over seven hundreds [sic] years to find out what [happened].” While Asher and Freeburg lean heavily on magic rather than history, in contrast to their opening, their interpretation may pique the curiosity of readers new to the story.
Neither illuminating nor truly inclusive. (Graphic fantasy. 12-17)