***** The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

This is another graphic novel that I picked up at TCAF, and it is adorable! I’d heard about it before, all good things, and when I saw it on sale I just had to buy it. The Prince and the Dressmaker is a story about Prince Sebastian who hires Frances to be his tailor, and make him fabulous dresses to that they both can go out at night and take Paris by storm. But Sebastian’s parents are pressuring him to find a wife, and Frances wants to be recognised for her talent in fashion, and not have to hide in the shadows to protect Sebastian’s secret.

This graphic novel made me feel a ton of emotions, and almost cry, first in utter heartbreak when shit hits the fan in the middle of the book, and then in happiness at what happens at the end. I just love the sensibility and finesse with which Jen Wang has woven her story. I also loved the artwork, as great drawings of fashion is one of the sure ways in which you can get my attention. I haven’t seen such amazing costumes in a comic since reading mangas by CLAMP in my teenage years, and I was delighted to examine each panel of this book with the attention it deserves.

I was also suprised and delighted by the friendship that Sebastian and Frances share in the book. When I first read the description, I thought that she would make him dresses and then he would go out, but Sebastien is happy to take Frances out with him every time he goes out as Lady Crystallia, a nickname he evens adopts because of her. This book really feels like two teenagers coming into their own and discovering the world together, like friends who just want to have a good time and then hit the wall of parental and societal expecation and then move through it together.

A very good, refreshing read, that I stayed up way too late so that I could finish in one single sitting. I even got bitten by my pet rabbit because I was (apparently) taking too much space on the couch and wasn’t paying him enough attention, but the book was just too captivating. I’ll keep an eye out on Jen Wang’s future work for sure.


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