PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED) - Princess Misty of Beldora has no interest in marrying a prince; she wants to live life on her own terms. But the marriage Misty's father has in mind for her is put on hold when she is captured and taken to the neighboring kingdom of monsters, Grimoire, where she is to marry its immortal ruler, Badlug the Terrible. Going home isn't an option until she has sought revenge on Badlug for killing her mother, and Misty's tenacity quickly wins her an eclectic band of allies, including Gorga, a kindhearted gorgon attendant, and Fogmoth, a gay gargoyle whose ex happens to be heir to the throne of Grimoire. Wheeler delivers a feminist fantasy adventure that overturns genre conventions at every opportunity, and his diverse cast of humans and monsters underscores underlying themes about prejudices and unfair assumptions. Sharp-witted banter entertains throughout, but Wheeler also slips in deeper considerations about the authority rulers wield and what true sacrifice looks like. Ganucheau contributes some thrilling and bloody action sequences, and her candy-colored palette, suffused with bright pinks and purples, is an inspired touch, just one more way this story subverts expectations. Ages 13-up. (Feb.)
BOOKLIST -- Princess Misty is frustrated with her life of rules and parties and dresses, especially considering mounting threats from Lord Badlug of Grimoire, who's eager to kidnap her. But, as Misty says, "Where is it written that a princess can't fight for her freedom?" Despite protests from her father, Misty picks up a sword and fights back against Badlug and his minions. When she's eventually captured, she tries to escape and leave Grimoire behind forever, but she learns an important truth that changes her plans: "The story doesn't end when you get what you want. Some of us have to live here." This fast-paced, funny adventure subverts classic princess stories in ways that are subtly relevant to contemporary issues. Wheeler's engaging story is well matched by Ganucheau's meticulous, detailed artwork, which is awash with beautiful, bright colors and characters of refreshingly diverse skin tones and body shapes. Perfect for fans of series like Ms. Marvel or Lumberjanes, this will be right at home next to any book about smart, spunky princesses triumphing over tyranny.
KIRKUS -- Clad almost entirely in bubble-gum pink, with artfully windblown scarlet tresses and pinkish-brown skin, Princess Artemisia of Beldora at first glance seems to be a typical princess-until she throws a pair of scissors through a darling songbird she identifies as a spy. The princess is awaiting a proposal from pale-skinned Prince Pete, a nice guy but not much of a fighter. The scrappy princess is soon kidnapped by the monstrous Lord Badlug, who killed her mother and now imprisons her in his castle in his kingdom, Grimoire. Rather than waiting for her prince to come, she vows to free herself and save both her own kingdom and Grimoire. Artemisia finds unexpected allies in Badlug's lands: the rightful prince of Grimoire, a black man; his on-again, off-again monster boyfriend; and a kindhearted gorgon who stuns but can't petrify. Together they seek to defeat Badlug and his monsters. Their medieval-ish world is evinced through an unabashedly vibrant palette of candy-tinged hues among neatly delineated panels. There is a diverse mix of skin tones, genders, orientations, and ages among both humans and monsters; this motley crew gives a broad range of readers someone to identify with and to root for. The conceit of the princess saving the day may not be entirely new, but don't let that be a deterrent: Wheeler's take is offbeat and fresh.
Quirky, unconventional, and a lot of fun. (Graphic fantasy. 12 & up)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL -- Oni Press releases another princess determined not to be another damsel in distress. Princess Misty of Beldora doesn't care for the Rules of Conduct that regulate a princess's life in her kingdom. She prefers a more exciting life, where a princess can protect her kingdom just as well as a prince can. She is captured by Lord Badlug, the evil ruler of the neighboring kingdom of Grimoire, who intends to marry her and then conquer Beldora. But Misty won't play the role of damsel in distress, and instead she works together with the long-suffering citizens of Grimoire, along with a certain bumbling prince, to protect her kingdom and free both realms from Badlug's tyrannical rule. This series is another of a growing list of stories with princesses discovering what it takes to be the hero, and showing both boys and girls that they can do just that.