Linda Medley – Castle Waiting, Vol. 1
7. Castle Waiting, Volume 1 by Linda Medley (2006)
Castle Waiting, Volume 1
Length: 456 pages
Genre: Fantasy; Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 09 February 2014
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Picked it up randomly off the graphic novels shelf.
Around the edges
of fairy tales is where life’s
real stories happen.
Summary: Castle Waiting starts out with a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, in which the princess doesn’t hang around once the hundred years of enchanted sleep have been lifted from the inhabitants of the castle. Over time, the castle in question becomes more and more isolated until it is somewhat of a legend. The pregnant Lady Jain, fleeing her abusive husband, makes her way there, only to find it a somewhat run-down sanctuary for those with troubled pasts and nowhere else to go, including Rackham, the stork-headed steward, and Sister Peace, the bearded nun.
Review: Fairy tales typically involve a lot of action, of people going on quests and slaying dragons and rescuing princesses. Castle Waiting is set in a very familiar fairy-tale world – it’s a pastiche of characters and tales and traditions and eras and elements, but it’s a cozy sort of jumble – but it turns the normal fairy tale plot on its ear. There isn’t really a central plot to this book – about half of it is Jain settling in to life at the castle, and the other half is Sister Peace telling her backstory to the other inhabitants (including several flashbacks-within-a-flashback). Ordinarily, “not having a central plot” is something that I would ding a novel for, but in this case, it really didn’t bother me. Medley manages to make the daily lives of the inhabitants of Castle Waiting compelling, not by artificially injecting drama, but by making them relatable and sympathetic. Theres a real sense of community amongst her characters, of good people making a life together and laughing and helping and chatting and just being people, which makes it a very comfortable and comforting read, even when it’s not clear where the “story” as such is going. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, and was sad to have to leave Medley’s world when it was over – partly because there are clearly stories left to tell, but also because it was just such a friendly place to spend a few hours. Luckily, the library agreed to buy me volume two, so I get to dive back in soon enough! 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If Fables is the fairy tale graphic novel series with all of the harder edges and grittier sides of the source material exposed, Castle Waiting is its softer and gentler cousin, but it’s just as enjoyable, with just as many great moments.
First Line: Long ago, in an age so happy that neither you nor I will ever see its like, there was a town: and this town was called Putney.
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