This reimagining of “Rapunzel” is recounted by the young witch, Gothel, charged with her safekeeping.
Five years locked in the tower have taken a toll on both girls. Princess Rapunzel, weighed down by her ever growing tresses, is falling into madness—Gothel’s found rat bones in her hair. Yet when a prince arrives, determined to break the spell and marry Rapunzel, Gothel feels torn. Her own mother, who’d laid the spell, was killed by Rapunzel’s father, the high sorcerer who made Gothel his daughter’s caregiver. Gothel knows Rapunzel’s rescue foretells nothing good for her. On reaching Rapunzel, the prince falls into an enchanted sleep, and his handsome squire, Raj, persuades a reluctant Gothel to help him awaken the prince, but she explains they must first obtain the magical shears possessed by her aunts—powerful, dangerous witches in a distant castle—that can cut Rapunzel’s hair. On their hazardous journey they’re joined by a shape-changing dwarf in search of his name and a slightly dissolute dark elf with a magical lute. Beset by sand demons, a dragon, and mounting perils, Raj and Gothel fall in love. While Rapunzel and Gothel’s people are light-skinned, Raj is an Outlander, a member of a group of desert dwellers who embody tired Orientalist tropes. If trite romance clichés abound, so do welcome plot twists that reinvigorate the proceedings.
Look past stale tropes to enjoy a sparkling fantasy. (Fantasy. 12-14)