SUMMARY: In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.
REVIEW: What a beautiful book! This book was recommended to me by a friend who loved Antonia Michaelis’s The Storyteller as much as I did. She said I would love this one, and she was totally right!
This book is a bit like The Arabian Nights. We have a young woman named Cherry, who is unhappily married to Jerome. Jerome makes a bet with his friend Manfred that if Manfred can seduce Cherry in 100 days, he can have his castle and Cherry herself. Cherry’s maid Hero overhears Manfred and Jerome’s wager, and she tells Cherry of their plans. Cherry and Hero, who are in love with each other, know this won’t end well for Cherry. So they come up with a plan to stall Manfred’s advances through nighttime stories.
So this graphic novel is Cherry and Hero’s story, interspersed with lots of other stories in between. Only one of the stories was familiar to me–the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”
The illustrations are simple and go with the story perfectly. I especially loved all the author asides, marked with an asterisk between some of the panels. Some of the asides made me laugh out loud on the bus as I read.
I love the feminist angle of this book. Many of the male characters are complete pigs, and I found myself wanting to reach in and throttle them myself. Though most of the women are at the mens’ mercy, the women are smarter and braver than the men. At least two male characters are good-hearted and not out to control, rape, and kill women.
THEMES: feminism, origin stories
THE BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful and unique–don’t miss it!
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It’s new in our library. This won’t be our most popular graphic novel, but I will recommend it to our high school and adult readers.
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 5/5
- Writing: 3/5–I think adults will like this more than teens.
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild-medium; sh**
- Sexuality: medium; multiple scenes of people in bed together (body parts are not detailed); one page includes full-frontal nudity (no major detail, and it is from far away)
- Violence: medium; rape and infidelity are central to the story, suicide, murder, men have considerable control over women
- Drugs/Alcohol: none
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