Friday, March 28, 2008

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting starts as a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”, but, unlike the best known versions of the fairy tale, it doesn’t end with the prince and the princess happily going off together. Instead, that is when it truly begins. What happens to the castle that was isolated for a hundred years? What happens to the people who slept alongside the princess?

Let us fast forward. The princess's three ladies-in-waiting are the only original inhabitants of the castle left. The castle has become a safe haven, a refuge for those who seek it. It is a place where misfits can find acceptance, a place women can flee to to escape abusive husbands, a place where single mothers can find companionship and happiness. Its inhabitants now include a stork-headed castle steward named Rackman, the mysterious sister Peace, a horse-headed knight, and demons, brownies, goblins, and ghosts, among others.

Jain, a pregnant lady with a mysterious past, makes for the castle to seek peace and refuge. Slowly, she begins to get to know the castle and its inhabitants, who tell her their stories, as well as the stories that someone in their stories told them, creating a final effect where layers and layers of enthralling tales rest over one another. Sister Peace, a character I initially regarded with suspicion (I think her pet demon is to blame for that), ends up becoming central to the story, and reveals herself to be wise and remarkable in many ways. She tells a fascinating story involving a circus, a lion tamer, lots of puppies, a mill, and an order of bearded nuns.

Linda Medley has created a story full of humour and warmth, peopled with characters you truly care about – peculiar and intriguing, yes, but accepting and wise and kind. Plus, Castle Waiting will delight fairy tale lovers with references to "Puss in Boots" and "Rumplestinskin" and other legends and myths that help create a truly magical atmosphere.

Linda Medley’s art is as good as her storytelling – subtle and incredibly expressive, full of little details like glances and raised eyebrows and trolls hiding under bridges that help pull you into the story and simply do not let go.

Castle Waiting is a charming fairy tale about friendship, genuineness, justice, acceptance, and learning to be happy in whatever way you choose to be. I anxiously await the publication of the second collected volume later this year.

You can take a look at the first issue of Castle Waiting here – but do keep in mind that the art looks even better on paper.


Nymeth said...

Gah, I'm sorry about the font being black. I checked the html, and it seems to be the same as in my other posts, where the font is NOT black. I'd really like to fix this, but I haven't any clue of what's causing it.

Athena said...

It's alright Nymeth, it seems the whole blog front page is affected. I have no idea why as I had problems with the font as well when I posted. The archives are fine. I'll try to check up on what's happening. Good post as usual!

Rebecca Reid said...

Yeay! a happy sounding one! I'm excited to read it.