Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy Bennett
Published by Cedar Fort
4 out of 5 stars
To be released 12th February 2013 on paperback (ebook tbc)
Books have fads, just look at the explosion of Fifty-shades-type-trash that have appeared on the shelves this christmas. In YA there was vampires, then werewolves and now fairytale retelling. Jackson Pearce did a fantastic job for older readers on Sisters Red and Sweetly, in a similar style we have Cinder, Ash and Beastly and for younger readers Just Ella and Palace of Mirrors steal the show. Its not just in the written world that Fairytales are taking charge – TV is filled with shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time, with the movie world following suit. With such a full market, I was in two minds about Rapunzel Untangled – part of me was excited for a new retelling, another part apprehensive as its ‘all be done before’.
Rapunzel is nearly 18 when the story begins, she’s living in a tower with only her mother for company, why? Rapunzel has SCIDs (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – in other words germs are bad for her). Her mother has long told her the story of how she is to save the world, she’s never to cut her hair and is to stay healthy, waiting for the day when the prophecy comes true. Rapunzel doesn’t dispute this, why would she? Her mother wouldn’t lie to her. Rapunzel happens to stumble upon a site ‘Facebook’ one day (she has a computer for school work), and on a whim friend requests a boy that lives near, Fane. Fane accepts and soon the pair are chatting (via fb) and a friendship blossoms.
Rapunzel, still a teenager, if not a normal one, keeps this friendship from her mother, and soon takes a massive risk by sneaking him in when her mother is away. Her friendship with Fane becomes the catalyst, and Rapunzel starts to question everything, betray her mothers trust and starts to leave her room, her home and everything she knows.
Of course this is a fairytale, and what fairytale doesn’t have magic and bad guys and betrayal……so thats all there two (And a hero….)
I quite enjoyed the book, I do wonder what age demographic is is aimed at though, its marketed as a YA book, however the first few chapters read as a younger read. Having said that the latter chapters get quite dark and gritty and really are the saving grace of the book. In fact once we get past the forced, awkward Facebook scene setting it gets better. I know that Bennett wanted to bring the story into the modern day, but the Facebook storyline was painful, no decent looking jock-type (which fane is supposed to be) is going to bother chasing down a ‘fan’ who friend requests him from an account with no friends, no picture and no name, its just not going to happen (and it goes against EVERYTHING we teach our younger generations about internet safety!). Personally I’d of arranged their meeting first, perhaps a dare for Fane to run into the house where he catches a glimpse of Rapunzel (and vice versa), leading her to look him up on Facebook – something to link them together before the internet takes over.
Once they meet, the story gets stronger, both are quite likable people, Rapunzel is a little dense, but then you’d expect that in a girl thats never been out. I loved the little touches like her knowing what a car it, but not knowing how to get the door open – things that really would be new to her. As I said above the later scenes where Rapunzel’s story starts to go wrong are brilliant, the twists that show up are unexpected and you wonder if, and how, she’ll get out of it.
Following all of that I felt the ending pretty rushed, the action happens, then theres about one chapter (a short one) that skims over what-happened-next, I felt a little cheated, I’d invested time in the characters and then I don’t REALLY find out what happened next.
Over all – a good read, but perhaps aimed at a mixed demographic – its neither all for younger readers or all for YA – its somewhere in the middle, the beginning being very simply written, the ending being much grittier. I enjoyed it, and read it in a day but felt there was some magic missing, something that fairytales should never be short of – a read I’d recommend to young teenage girls, but that won’t appeal to the twilight generation.