Dear readers, there are some spoilers in this review, but they’re necessary for a thorough discussion of the comic.  Please, if you haven’t read this one yet, go pick it up from your local library and then come back to this review.  Thank you 🙂

The Princeless series continues to deliver strong female characters, beautiful (child appropriate) artwork, and storylines with meaning. Each time Adrienne and Bedelia venture out to rescue one of Adrienne’s sisters, a facet of relationships is dissected and examined. This volume dealt with abusive relationships and gender roles in government.

Now, it’s not that cut and dry on the surface- the story itself is really fun and engaging. Adrienne and Bedelia have to survive a cannibalistic tribe of goblins in a monster infested swamp in order to reach Angoisse’s tower. On the way, they befriend unlikely allies and encounter a plant-like terror. While this is going on, Adrienne’s brother, Devin, refuses to embrace traditional gender roles and activities, which continues to infuriate his tyrannical father. Their relationship illustrates the eternal struggle between parent and child. Parents think they know better and push their child in the direction they believe they should go, while children want to follow their natural inclinations. In the push-pull dynamic, somehow everything works out fine, but with more bad feelings on either side than there need to be.

The abusive relationship portion is tactfully presented in the interactions between Angoisse and Raphael. Sometimes people act a certain way because they want something out of you, other than your company. Kids get it. But in an era of Twilight idealization, I think the presentation of a “vampire” who acts out of self-interest rather than undying love is an important topic to discuss. Teen relationships are just as thorny and prone to abuse as adult relationships and, because they are some of the first experiences that teens have, they have the potential to color the rest of that person’s lifetime and set the stage for the relationships to come. Angoisse is a victim of Raphael but also her own beliefs. She’s always thought that she needed a man to complete her and she was going to do whatever it took to keep that relationship intact, even to the point of giving up her humanity or betraying her own family. It didn’t take a very smart predator to see that she could be manipulated through her feelings. Sadly, such people actually exist. Thank you, Princeless for opening a door to the discussion of how to remain true to yourself in relationships and a powerful example of how to leave the ones that have soured.

The story is not too complex and adult readers may find it rather simplistic (unless you dig deeper into the underlying meaning), but it’s perfect for the 8 to 12 year olds. This comic will appeal to reluctant readers of either gender. I highly recommend it.

Thank you for reading!

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