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Friday, April 29, 2011

Castle Waiting: Lucky Road by Linda Medly

 Castle Waiting Volume 1: Lucky Road
Linda Medley

A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting tells the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. It's a fairy tale that's not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil... but about being a hero in your own home.

In the middle of my reading for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was craving some graphic novels.  It had been awhile, and my fingers were itching for them.  And then I opened up my Google Reader one day, and the Polish Outlander had posted a bunch of graphic novels; I popped over to Goodreads to mark some of them "to-read" and came across another one she was reading that hadn't been in the post: Castle Waiting, Volume Two.  The title - and her enthusiasm for the story - hooked me, and I immediately went to my library's request page to see if they had volume One.  No.  No, they did not.  But they had another volume that makes up part of volume one (this series has some of the most confusing, convoluted ordering): Lucky Road.
Request this title?  Um, ☑

I didn't even really know what it was about.  I just wanted a comic and it had a cool title -- it fit the bill.  And y'all - it's about fairy tales.  No effing joke.  I just now got the full Volume One,  and Lucky Road is in about the middle of it, so I did miss a little bit of back story about Castle Waiting and how it came to be, but I actually kind of liked just being plunged in.  It made for a quirkier read, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  Basically, Castle Waiting works in some familiar story lines and characters that will be recongnizable to fairy tale lovers, but it is really its own thing.  It uses the fairy tale realm as a base for the world, and expands out from it, bringing in a lot of the side characters and everyday people from the fairy tales we grew up with (I love this, btw.  I love that Medley didn't just do a straightforward retelling, or feel the need to explain to the reader -- you know the stories or you don't, but she's not going to hold your hand through them -- it all just is, and I love that.)

Lucky Road follows Lady Jain who, pregnant and fleeing from her husband's home, is in search of the fabled Castle Waiting and the sanctuary it is said to offer.  I loved everything about her journey to the Castle, her reception there, and getting to know the odd but lovable castle inhabitants.  Medley packed so much personality into the characters in such a short time that I came to love them.  And they had me continually cracking up.  On top of the fairy tale elements that make up their characters - Henry and his heart caged in bands of iron; the handmaidens who slept 100 years alongside their enchanted mistress - they each have their own quirks that made them memorable.

The story and their interactions were so silly and light-hearted and fun, but not frivolous - the reader is always aware that Jain is running from something - and that they probably all are.
click to embiggen
But in the meantime, they're going to have fun and make the most of life, and carry on with their little quirks, making fun of each other and being made fun of in return.

You know that warm feeling you get when you read a new book and you know it was meant for you?  You've made a new friend, and you're going to be together forever?  As light and silly as this was, that was how I felt.  It was exactly what I wanted, even if it was only a fragment of the story.

I just got the full Volume One (and Vol Two is on request), so I will definitely be continuing my adventures with Castle Waiting.  I understand that the story as a whole has some feminist aspects, and gets compared a lot to Chaucer, and I can see bits of that in Lucky Road.  I bring this up for 2 reasons:

  1. If you're thinking, I'm not going to read that, it's fluff - know there is more to it.  Feminism! Chaucer!
  2. If you're thinking, Feminism? Chaucer? - know that it's fluff!  It's fun, and it's not going to beat you over the head just because it's got some subtle heft to it!  
(speaking of heft - the full Vol 1 clocks in at about 500 pages)
So, to stop rambling so I can get back to reading, I just want to leave you with some of my favorite oddbits from the story, and this last thought: I think this will be one of the few graphic novels I feel the need to buy - if that doesn't recommend it...
I'm so sending this one to my preggers friend, Jenn!
This little guy is one of my favorite characters.

Just another piece of silliness,
this one showing the great expressiveness
and personality in their faces/the drawings.
A fairy tale princess who wakes up, sniffs a pretty flower
 then cracks her toes = my kind of fairy tale princess!


  1. The few graphic novels I have read I have really enjoyed.

  2. I absolutely LOVE Castle Waiting. Everyone I've borrowed it to has loved it as well. :)


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