This princess of the underworld has plenty of her own work to do but always seems to find herself doing her layabout father's job, as well. The king doesn't feel quite well, you see. Ever. So the princess is left scurrying through the halls, dodging her mummy, werewolf, and ghost subjects, always running behind and always buried under a ton of paperwork. Oh, and her father just fired the chef, so now she has to hire a new cook as well.
Luckily for Princess Decomposia, she makes a good hire in Count Spatula, the vampire chef with a sweet tooth. He's a charming go-getter of a blood-sucker, and pretty soon the two young ghouls become friends. And then...more than friends? Maybe eventually, but first Princess Decomposia has to sort out her life. And with Count Spatula at her side, you can be sure she'll succeed.
Andi Watson (Glister, Gum Girl) brings his signature gothy-cute sensibility to this very sweet and mildly spooky tale of friendship, family, and management training for the undead.
Princess Decomposia does the work of the kingdom while her invalid father King Wulfrun spends each day in bed. Running a kingdom is hard (and hungry) work! When the castle cook resigns without notice on the day before the werewolf delegation is due for dinner, Princess Decomposia (Dee for short) is thrown for a loop. Luckily for Dee, vampire chef Count Spatula is an applicant for the new opening. The Count brings a certain flair for the experimental to the castle and the Princess’ life – but will it last? Duty may yet trump romance (and baked goods)…
The plot is fairly simple: overworked girl meets new boy, the status quo changes, people react, girl makes a decision, there’s a revelation!, and with a little bit of work, the characters get a happily ever after. As you might be able to tell from the title and cover art, this is all done in a tongue-in-cheek fictional paranormal kingdom, where the scullery maid is a clove of garlic and the zombie head of state makes boring dinner conversation. Half the fun is seeing what sort of monster will make an appearance next, and what role they will play in the story. The combination of subtle and overt humor is delightful.
Of course, with a character named Count Spatula, there are cooking- and baking-related adventures. The Count doesn’t have the references of some applicants, but he is adept at caring for people (or monsters, in this case) and whipping up fantastical desserts in short order. His unique take on Lemon Drizzle Cake looked crazy/good, and the Mud Monster Cake made me laugh out loud. I find myself craving these fictional sweets as I read. A mouth-watering problem, to be sure.
The art, with a few exceptions, is almost all arranged in 5 or 6 small panels per page, and done exclusively in black and white. This is perfect for the ghoulish characters (who would mostly be black and white, anyway!), but at some points a proliferation of bones in one illustration or another would confuse my eye a bit – not enough contrast. The style is cute and unfussy for what are usually grim, horrible creatures, and I loved that juxtaposition. The art seems to invite the reader to laugh at or imagine the daily lives of traditional scary monsters, and that’s just fun, you know?
In all, this graphic novel is a pleasure to read. It’s quick, all-ages appropriate, and highlights the themes of asking for help when you need it, doing what you can to fix things when you make a mistake, and (of course) the joys of baking.
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula will be released on February 24, 2015 by First Second Books (Macmillan).
Interested in other food-related posts? Check out Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking!
Fine print: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I did not receive any compensation for this post.