Saturday, July 11, 2015


Title: Zel
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Number of Pages: 227
Date Read: 7/11/15
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling

Synopsis (Found on

High in the mountains, Zel lives with her mother, who insists they have all they need -- for they have each other. Zel's life is peaceful and protected -- until a chance encounter changes everything. When she meets a beautiful young prince at the market one day, she is profoundly moved by new emotions. But Zel's mother sees the future unfolding -- and she will do the unspeakable to prevent Zel from leaving her..."

My Review:

This book was ok. It wasn't the best retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. 

This book pretty much closely follows the original fairytale. Zel is living with her mother in an alm in Switzerland. In the beginning of the book she is 12. Her mother has a strange gift with plants. While in the town Zel meets Count Konrad, who is a few years older than her, and falls in love with him without even realizing it. Konrad falls for her too. Once Zel's mother finds out about this she locks Zel in an abandoned tower under the guise of keeping her safe from an enemy. From there the events that happen pretty much follow the original fairy tale. 

I also want to mention that the book is told in 3 pov's: Zel's, Mother's and Konrad's. 

Zel was an ok character. She was very naive and believes everything that her mother says. Near the end she even believes she can convince her mother to let her out of the tower. Zel is a very sheltered girl and has zero experience with boys of any kind or even any girls. She has no friends, no one except for mother. Zel lives in an alm which I guess is a kind of farm, which is very isolated, with her mother. Her mother grows their food so they never have to go anywhere to get food. They visit the town for some errands twice a year and that's all Zel ever really sees of people. Zel also has a way with animals and she loves them. She wishes she can talk to them. Its her gift with animals that makes Konrad notice her, when she is calming his horse for the blacksmith. She also loves to draw and is skilled at it. As she gets older and she's in the tower by herself for two years she starts going crazy. She has no one to talk to so she talks to animals. She becomes very quiet and she hallucinates at times. She also rambles when she talks. After leaving the tower she becomes somewhat normal and she is kind to the people around her. 

I don't really know what to say about mother. She is a crazy b***h. She has an extremely unnatural attachment to Zel and wants Zel to choose to stay with her for the rest of her life and not marry or have children. Yes because that is realistic. She is so dementedly possessive of Zel, that she doesn't even want her to talk to anyone when they're in town. Mother has witch like abilities with plants and she got them through a deal with the devil or devils. And part of her bargain is to try to persuade Zel to sell her souls to them in return for a gift when she is older, which will also cause Zel to stay with her forever. What kind of mother even wants that for her child let alone agrees to it? She is really ok with Zel selling her soul and living in eternal damnation (which the devils said is mother's fate since she took the deal). All she cares about is having Zel never leave her. Sometime the way she talks about her feelings for Zel almost seems incestous, which is really creepy. She also locks her precious Zel in a tower where she only visits Zel for an hour everyday and allows Zel to become insane. What a wonderful mother-not. She so worried about Zel choosing to stay with her forever, that she puts herself through so much "pain" because Zel isn't living with her. Instead of enjoying the two years that Zel was in the tower, with Zel at their alm home, Mother punishes them both with pain and insanity. Well she's not getting any mother of the year awards. 

There's not much to say about Konrad. His chapters are mostly filled with searches to find Zel. In the beginning when he first meets her he doesn't even know why he keeps thinking about her. He obsessively searches for her, basically putting his entire life on hold just to find her. He stops his tutor lessons, stops learning how to become a count after his father dies and spends all his time riding around to find her. He searches for her for at least a year and a half before he gives up. Then six months or so later he finds her completely by accident. He is just like a love sick puppy. 

There really wasn't much romance involved aside from that first encounter. The rest of the book is Zel and Konrad pining for each other. She thinks about him all the time in the tower, he thinks about her all the time while he searches. When he finds her they make love after not seeing each other for two years. It's like automatic which I guess can be seen as cute and loving but I dunno. I was happy they found each other.

The rest of the book is just like the original fairytale so I'm not gonna go into it. 

As I said the book is ok. Not one of Napoli's best works. 

Rating: C

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