Cursed Princess Club Volume One

Wattpad/WEBTOON Unscrolled. Jan. 2023. 288p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781990259937; pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781990259791.
Gr 7 Up–When the three princesses of the Pastel Kingdom are informed of their upcoming nuptials, they eagerly prepare to welcome the princes of the Plaid Kingdom. Upon their meeting, two princes are immediately smitten, but Gwendolyn overhears the prince intended for her calling her ugly. Understandably, the distraught princess runs off to the woods, where she stumbles upon the Cursed Princess Club. In this place, princesses (and one man who does not identify as a princess) seek life-affirming support. With the club and her family backing her, the crafty but introverted Gwendolyn is able to step forward. Originally a webcomic, this Webtoon publication reworks fairy-tale tropes to reclaim the power of cursed princesses. However, the cartoonish tone and illustrations sometimes overshadow this intent, presenting readers with a set-up in which it isn’t clear at first whether the characters overly value conventional beauty standards or whether the story itself shares this view. This becomes less of a concern in the latter half, as the story takes a turn for the sincere, and the comedy beats become more palatable. The full-color, shoujo-inspired style gets better utilized too. Despite the story’s initial preoccupation with the physical qualities, this is ultimately an affirming first volume in which the cast acknowledges inner beauty and stands firm with one another.
VERDICT Once the author finds their voice, this graphic novel’s heart of loving oneself begins to shine, and will grow on readers in similar situations.

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