The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Genres: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?
Oh my goodness, this book was so sweet and cute and fun! I just loved it to death, and if you like graphic novels (and probably even if you don’t), you will too!
I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Jen Wang just nailed this story all around. The art and the writing were both excellent. I loved that the characters weren’t drop-dead-gorgeous, but instead had such unique and identifiable facial features. The fashion, however, was beautiful. She somehow managed to capture fashion in turn-of-the-century France, while still giving it a modern look that felt whimsical and dreamy. One thing is for sure, I would buy any gown she chose to sell! Her settings were lovely too, realistic enough to make you feel you were there, but exaggerated enough to make the story feel fantastical.
I loved the story. I think half the reason that Lady Crystallia worked so well was that I had no idea it was coming. I’d never read the synopsis of this book, and picked it up purely on a bajillion recommendations, so the Lady’s true identity came as a complete (and pleasant) surprise. I enjoyed discovering who the characters were along with themselves.
Frances’ and Sebastian’s relationship was so sweet. It felt so pure and true. I loved the way they were so supportive of one another, and their happy companionship was a nice change from the drama that so often fills YA novels. Their dialogue together was convincing and kind, so different from the sexy banter I’m used to reading.
The character development in this book was surprisingly successful. Considering how short and quick this little novel is, you wouldn’t expect that characters would have time to grow and learn. But Sebastian and his father in particular really come in to their own and learn from their mistakes in the most heartwarming ways. Frances, too, finds her courage and confidence. You can’t help but smile and feel so … NICE as you’re finishing this book up.
My one critique, which honestly I’m noticing is something that I’ve felt about a lot of graphic novels I’ve read, is that the passage of time isn’t always conveyed very effectively within the chapter. The first chapter, in particular, takes place over the course of a couple of days, and I didn’t always notice the time change. I had to go back and re-read a few times before I caught on. I think this medium just lends itself better to short time periods.
Go ahead and add this to the list of graphic novels I’ve read and loved in the last year. ❤