Another Castle: Grimoire

Writer: Andrew Wheeler
Artist: Paulina Ganucheau
Letterer: Jenny Vy Tran
Publisher: Oni Press

A review by Hafsa Alkhudairi

Another Castle: Grimoire 1When I first looked through Another Castle: Grimoire, I thought it would be like a combination of Super Mario Bros. and Zodiac Starforce. The former because the title reminded me of what Toad says at the end of every level, and because Princess Misty’s outfit gave me flashbacks to Peach. The latter because the art style and colour schemes were similar and it turns out I was recognising Paulina Ganucheau’s artistry. What I found awesome about this comic was that the environments, the monsters, and the female/male representations are stereotypical, but their roles are inverted. The princess is no damsel in distress. The monsters are not evil. The environment is not necessarily dark or light to reflect the scene. The narrative becomes a beautiful production of inverted stereotypes.

Another Castle: Grimoire starts its story with Misty getting ready for a ball and her father negotiating a marriage contract. However, the cliché of a princess’s role is undermined by Misty jumping out of the window, determined to actively protect her kingdom rather than be protected herself. This is true in every part of the story as Misty takes lengths to create allies, sacrifice herself for the greater good, and fight hard for what is just, even if that goes against what is traditional. The captioning is what highlights these interactions for the reader to understand the characters’ motivations. The captions also explain who some of the characters are and add some background information, perfect for a new reader or someone who just always craves a little more lore in their stories.

What endeared me to the story is the inspiring one-liners like “You can stand on the outside and demand change, or you can stand on the inside and try to make it” that the characters exemplify. Moreover, the characters, the protagonists in specific, aren’t static. They grow and evolve during the story making decisions that they would have not done so in the beginning of the book. Beyond the narrative and its seriousness, there are funny moments in Another Castle: Grimoire too like Misty using Don Diego’s Book of Conduct (a book mentioned by her father, the king) as a window stopper.

The Verdict
Buy It!
Honestly, with the inversion of stereotypes, the hilarious conversations, and the headstrong justice-filled protagonists, I can’t recommend this book more. Another Castle: Grimoire shows the many ways someone can be feminine and masculine and sometimes whatever in between. The comic still maintains fairy tale like story structure such as the captioning system in place and the use of bright and beautiful colours. The story also brings up feminist themes like the freedom to be whatever type of female, to choose whether to marry or not, to dress however you want, and to change the world from a series of monarchies to multiple democracies.

Hafsa Alkhudairi
Hafsa Alkhudairi doing her MA Contemporary Literature and Culture at Birkbeck College, University of London, living in London, UK. She is graduating hopefully in october and has her heart set on going into publishing until she decides whether there is a PHD in her future. Current Project; Figuring out who is the big bad female villain in Marvel and DC.

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