The other day I proclaimed on twitter that Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love was my “first foray into graphic novels.” Well, it’s not. I mean, it’s the first one I finished, but it’s not the first one I’ve tried. I got about three quarters of the way through Persepolis, and I’ve read pages here and there of several others. But this one I bought (as opposed to borrowed from the library) and made an effort to read through. You know what? It was pretty cool. Illustrated twist on fairy tale: what’s not to love?
When supernatural artifacts from the Homelands begin surfacing in the modern world, it falls to Cinderella, Fabletown's best-kept (and best dressed) secret agent to stop the illegal trafficking. But can Cindy foil the dark plot before Fabletown and its hidden, exiled inhabitants are exposed once and for all? And how does her long lost Fairy Godmother factor into the equation?
Whether she's soaring through clouds, deep-sea diving, or cracking jaws, Cindy travels from Manhattan to Dubai and hooks up with a handsome, familiar accomplice who may be harboring secret motives of his own. Meanwhile, trouble brews back home in Fabletown when Cindy's overworked, underappreciated assistant decides to seize control of The Glass Slipper, Cindy's exclusive shoe boutique.
Now, the first thing I would wonder if I read that summary is ‘what the heck is Fabletown?’ And I think that’s a valid question. Answer: Bill Willingham created an original series and world where the Fables, creatures from the traditional tales, are in hiding in our world. He wrote (and is still writing?) this series, as well as the novel Peter & Max (which I LOVED so hard!). And Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love is a spin-off by a different author, but set in that same universe. So it’s got history if you want to go looking, but it’s a complete tale in its own right as well.
Protagonist Cinderella is a tough lady living the life of a spy, after she the happily-ever-after she was promised doesn’t work out as planned. It’s a cool set-up, and Cindy’s adventures are exciting. It isn’t on the same level of dark violence or genius that Peter & Max was, but it’s satisfying and fun. Best description I can think of: it feels comfortable and yet still interesting. As a kid I read Archie comics. This is obviously on a whole different level – a more nuanced, grown-up one. But it still appeals in some way to the kid inside me. I’ll be trying many more graphic novels in the future!
Recommended for: existing comic and graphic novel aficionados, the curious, and the fairy tale addicted. A pleasant surprise and a very quick read in the bargain.
Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love counts for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.