Once upon a time there was a marzipan castle where a young princess lived all alone. She had to cook for herself and keep the castle tidy, but when the chores were done, she would go adventuring, her teddy bear Mr. Whiffle at her side. They went hunting for treasure, and they staged mock battles against their pretend enemies, and they comforted one another when the Thing Beneath the Bed scared them.
At this point in our discussion I should emphasize that this is not a children’s book. It bears repeating, with italics: this is not a children’s book.
It is a picture book. The hero is an adorable little orphan girl. She plays with stuffed animals. The story is winsome and whimsical and precious, right up till the point where it becomes the most seriously twisted bit of illustrated storytelling since Edward Gorey put ink to paper.
Apparently Patrick Rothfuss, when not busy writing critically-acclaimed debut fantasy novels, spends his time thinking of ways to be cunning and wicked. Rarely have I encountered a story so morally corrupt. (I have already forked over the $25 for a personal copy.)
Rothfuss is aided and abetted in his deviltry by Nate Taylor, whose black-and-white illustrations are just marvelous. I cannot say enough good things about them. I found myself lingering over the pages, enchanted and delighted by the subtle little details and jokes hidden in the pictures.
This is a very quick read, even counting for the time you’ll spend looking at the artwork. Though it does not have sequential panels, we’ve decided to catalog this as a graphic novel, because we can’t very well put a story this disturbing in the children’s picture book section.
Check the WRL catalog for The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, if you dare.