Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zel - Donna Jo Napoli

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 227
Reason for Reading : Irresitible Review Challenge, numerous recommendations

A beautiful re-telling of Rapunzel narrated by Zel (Rapunzel), her "Mother" and Konrad. Set in the Alps, Zel lives with her mother apart from the towns people. They only visit twice a year when her mother goes to buy her birthday gifts including a stack of papers and ink as Zel loves to draw. Her other love (apart from her mother) is animals and she can't abide the thought of hurting one. Her mother discourages her from forming attachments with anyone besides her and lets no one come to the alm where they live and rarely lets Zel out of her sight or to accept gifts.

Despite this Zel has a very happy childhood although she dreams of one day getting married and starting her own family. Approaching her thirteenth birthday and on the cusp of puberty, Zel has a chance encounter at the smithy with a young man called Konrad. Both think fondly of the other afterwards and when Zel's mother finds out she forces Zel into a tower using her plant magic until the unknown and feared "enemy" has been defeated. Konrad searches for Zel who slowly starts to go insane kept on her own for many years with only an hours company from mother every day. Eventually he finds her and the story plays out.

This was a lovely version of the tale. The different narrators was an interesting touch and allowed the reader to gain different perspectives on the main characters. Zel sounded like a lovely child and I felt so sorry for her when she is alone and lashes out at Pigeon Pigeon. Definitely recommended for anyone looking to escape reality for a few hours and enter a fairy tale story with a realistic feel.

Other reviews:
Miss Erin (the first time I heard of this tale - thanks for the recommendation)
Kim at Page After Page
Jenclair at Book Garden


Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

Interesting. Maw Books mentioned this book when she reviewed Ella Enchanted and I added it to my TBR list then. Now you're reviewing it and I'm really interested at this point. And considering you have four other people who have read it as well, I'm going to have to get this.

Jill said...

I was just looking at this book at the library yesterday, and I reluctantly put it back because I have an INSANE number of books checked out. It's ridiculous. But now I know I really do have to read it. Thanks for the great review!

Andi said...

This is one of those books I always hear good things about, but I haven't tried it yet. The only Napoli I've read was called Mary Called Magdalene, and it was lovely as well. Maybe I'll give this one a go after all!

jenclair said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Zel was much more sophisticated than the typical young-young adult novel!

Ana S. said...

I enjoyed this one a lot. I'm glad you did too!

Kim L said...

I want to add this one too, I like the sounds of it. Thanks for recommending it!