The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

February 16, 2018

“Some days I look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘That’s me, Prince Sebastian! I wear boy clothes and look like my father!’ Other days it doesn’t feel right at all. Those days I feel like I’m actually… a princess.”

PRINCE SEBASTIAN doesn’t want to get married. He’s only sixteen, but his parents are having him court prospective brides from all across the world. During these dates, he seems tired and distracted, to the confusion of his parents and staff. This is because he spends his nights as…

LADY CRYSTALLIA, fashion icon and socialite who rocks the wildest and trendiest outfits in France designed by the up-and-coming dressmaker…

FRANCES, a commoner hired in secret by Prince Sebastian to sew his iconic and rebellious fashion statements.

When Sebastian’s future clashes with Frances’ dreams, she must decide where her loyalties lie: to her dresses or the boy who wears them?

I picked up The Prince and the Dressmaker on Valentine’s Day, read it in one night, wrote some of this review, then read it again. I have been anticipating this graphic novel for months, the description of ‘Jen Wang draws 16-year-old boys who wear dresses’ more than enough to get me excited.

The art is bright and fabulous, immersing you in the lush world of French fashion and royalty while still delivering the pink pastel palettes (Try saying that three times fast) you’d expect from a book that came out the day before Valentine’s Day.

Jen Wang knows what she’s doing. One of my biggest problems with graphic novels is that it can be harder to connect to the characters since the books end so quickly. This is not the case for The Prince and the Dressmaker. I cared about Frances and Sebastian just as much as I care about any other ‘real book’ character, and maybe even more so.

Another thing I love about this book is that it’s marketed towards both young adults and middle-graders. It puts an issue many see as ‘inappropriate’ and celebrates it in the most adorable and wholesome way I can imagine. This book is not ‘complicated’ or ‘a bit too much’ for young readers. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a happy, thoughtful story about acceptance and identity that just happens to be told through the lens of a prince who wears dresses.

Reading The Prince and the Dressmaker was like watching an episode of Project Runway while reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and eating a box of Sweethearts. Actually, no. It was much, much better. (Also, reading while watching T.V. sounds like epic multitasking gone wrong.)

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