Title: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms (The Courageous Princess #1)
Author: Rod Espinosa
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Release Date: Dark Horse Books
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Young Reader
Pages: 245 pages
Once upon a time, a greedy dragon kidnapped a beloved princess . . . But if you think she just waited around for some charming prince to rescue her, then you’re in for a surprise!
Princess Mabelrose has enough brains and bravery to fend for herself! From a mighty dragon with an army of troll to a tyrant tiger king, Mabelrose meets each challenge with pluck and intelligence, winning the help and friendship of the many kindred spirits she encounters in her quest to find her wat home.
My First Thoughts:
So I found this book while I was at the beach over Christmas and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. After finals and packing up my dorm room, I really wasn’t in the mood for a book so I decided to go with a graphic novel! Out of my huge stack this one jumped out at me first.
This is by far the cutest story that I have read in a long time! For a children’s book, this story really took me by surprise and held my interest until the very end. There were some parts of the story that seemed to be a bit rushed or sudden, like there could have been more development. However, since this is a children’s story, I understand that a child wouldn’t necessarily notice or care for more development, they would want to jump straight into the action. With that in mind, Espinosa does a wonderful job setting up his world and characters enough without boring the reader. He also does an excellent job pacing his story as well, making it the action fast enough to keep up with a child’s attention span, but dragging it out enough to fit older readers as well.
I really enjoyed the world and characters that Espinosa created. His idea of a world in which every fairytale occurred, but you follow the stories of the children and grandchildren of those characters, was fantastic! It wasn’t spelled out, it was a happy little discovery after quite a few name drops were made and little elbow jabs to the original stories. I was actually really thrilled when I discovered that these characters were related to the ones that I grew up reading about in their fairytales, and I always wondered what it would be like if they all lived in the same world…
Anyways, I absolutely loved the characters! Mabelrose and her parents stole my heart in the first few pages of the story. Their relationship was so loving and adorable that sometimes I couldn’t help my slight happy squealing! Princess Mabelrose really surprised me, and I guess it’s because she isn’t your typical princess. She’s a bit of an outcast when it comes to royalty, not super proper or wearing the latest up to date fashion, but her interests and curiosity were quite genuine and so were her attempts at making friends. Still, I was surprised by how much courage she had in the beginning of her ordeal, I surely thought that it would take a rather defining moment for her to develop the courage she had. Instead, she relied heavily on her faith (something else I haven’t seen in a while) and took matters into her own hands. It was her stubbornness and independence that really won me over, making me wish that I had her along with Princess Leia when I was growing up!
I also enjoyed some of the themes that I found in the graphic novel. There was bravery in the face of danger, but also other lessons buried in this Coming of Age story. One lesson that really surprised me was keeping faith in your darkest hour. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something like that in a story, especially nowadays. I found it charming though, because a specific faith was never mentioned and it was clear that there was more than one that the characters, and supporting characters, believed in. It was a nice change to read a story that used faith to help their characters, and not see conflict between the various faiths. It was wonderful to actually read true coexistence amongst faiths.
I recommend this graphic novel to any parent looking for something to read to their younger children, or for children that want to get into comics. Sure, there’re no super heroes and it’s set in a fairytale world, but Mabelrose is a wonderful role model for young girls and boys. The princess is the embodiment of courage and faith, showing that even in the toughest times you can do something great if you’re brave enough to try. I also recommend it to anyone who loves fairytales and wants a light graphic novel read! Not every reader has to be a child.
I do have to say that if reading about a story that focuses heavily on faith makes you uncomfortable, then this might not be for you. While no specific faith is named, there are at least a few different ones running around and the main characters do pray a lot throughout the story. It’s something that you can’t really skip either, because it’s one of the larger themes of the story.
For a book targeted for children the story is pretty solid. There were some parts that seemed a little rushed that could’ve used some extension, but children wouldn’t really notice that anyways. The characters each had their little quirks that really made them lovable and enjoyable to read, even the minor characters really stuck out to me.
I’ve seen some complaints about the amount of praying in the story. Honestly, for me, I actually enjoyed how much the main character prayed and relied on her faith to help her find strength. It was also nice to see more than one religion in the story and not one bashing the other, just a subtle example of coexistence.
I really enjoyed the art; it brought me back to my childhood when I would read illustrated children’s stories with similar art. I loved how simple the style was. Everything was simplistic, and the artist used color to really make the characters stand out. I also loved how the story used colors and shades to set the mood as well, something that can be hard to do sometimes with a simplistic art style.
All in all, this will definitely be one of the stories that I’ll read to my kids one day!