Publisher: First Second (2018)
Length: 288 pg
Acquired: NYC Bookcon
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride- Or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia- the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon is his brilliant dressmaker, Frances- his best friend and one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances to for her dreams to protect her friend?
Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairytale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
I picked up a copy of this book at the 2018 New York City Bookcon and I knew this would be the perfect first book review to put on my new site. It’s the perfect blend of words and pictures, it’s not easy to have a perfect balance but this book really succeeds!
So where do I start?
I remember hearing about this on the internet a long while back and I was excited then, and when (what feels like years?? I have no concept of time) later I see it on the table at a book convention, I stopped dead in my tracks and snatched it up without a thought!
It is a very quick read: the narrative is clear and concise, the pictures are lovely and easy to follow, and the characters are charming and hard not to fall in love with. Honestly not much more I could possibly ask for.
So this is the story of Prince Sebastian of Belgium who is summering in Paris in the turn of the century. He is supposed to be having a vacation from responsibilities but instead his parents keep hosting parties and inviting eligible young princesses for their only son to choose from; but girls are the last thing on his mind, or at least not in the way they want.
Sebastian has a unique way to express himself. It’s a way for him to experiment with confidence, charm, and creativity: dressing in beautiful and daring gowns! His mother’s old dresses don’t fit him anymore though so he needs to enlist the help of Frances, a recently disgraced young seamstress who is too ahead of her time.
Together they embark on a beautiful coming of age story of trust and betrayal, the fluidity of gender and the importance of being true to yourself, that just felt so real and sincere.
From an artist perspective, the art is just delightful, consistent and simple, but so well paced and emotive. I really appreciate sequential art that can really embrace narrative without only moving the story with speech bubbles. There are lots of scenes with hardly any talking at all and I really find that the sign of a strong storyteller.
The hand drawn frames are another thing I really like, it matches the line quality of the characters and ties together the atmosphere of the story.
Also this page is everything:
I have very few complaints about this story, I really commend Jen Wang on a job well done, I am very inspired by this work and I really look forward to more from her in the future.
You may have noticed I gave this 4.5/5 mushrooms, and that is mostly because nothing is perfect, as close as I believe this is.
I have very few criticisms, most of which are just related to my opinion that it ended a bit too abruptly and conveniently. I can appreciate the fairy tale best-case-scenario ending because I by no means want to see Sebastian suffer more than he already did. A few more pages towards tying some loose ends together I think would make the end finish a bit smoother.
But honestly, how can I complain when the ending has this:
Supportive parents are my weakness. 👨👩👧
So all in all, I fully recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It’s a sweet story with beautiful art and a lovely message. Love who you are and you will find those who love you. ❤️
(First and last images were drawn specifically for this book review, please do not repost or reuse without permission thank you ☺️)