I picked this up because it was on the "recommended" list at the back of one of Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow's anthologies - and I'm very glad I did!
It's a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, set in the 1500's in Switzerland. While Napoli does not take out the more fantastic/magical elements of the story, she very much emphasizes the psychological elements of the story: the witch who demands a baby girl in return for the theft of her lettuce is not simply evil, but clings to her "adopted" daughter, Rapunzel, with a fierce and possessive "love," which over the years grows more and more obsessively twisted, till it leads to her imprisoning her in an isolated tower, with terrible consequences for Zel's sanity... The dynamic, as it is portrayed, is far too close to the reality of how many parents cling to their children (finding it hard to let them grow up, become independent, and find love on their own) to be comfortable reading. Although the book was marketed toward young teens, I found it to be one of the most disturbing (but also most romantic!) works I've read in quite a while.
Highly recommended for fans of Patricia McKillip.
I loved it. It's a take on the classic story of Repunzel, and for some reason I fell in love with it simply because it's kind of creepy. It's the actual, original story of Repunzel, just exaggerated and made longer. I love it.
Zel is a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. In this one Zel is actually placed in the tower by her mother, after she meets a young man in the market one day. Zel's mother is a witch, who loves Zel more than anything, and wants to keep Zel with her always and cannot bear the thought of sharing her with anyone.
I liked a lot of the touches in this book, especially the one that dealt with how Rapunzel dealt with being locked up alone in a tower with no company. I did find the storyline of the mother more than a little creepy; I guess I couldn't understand any mother doing such a terrible thing to her child. Overall it was a interesting take on a classic tale.
This is an adaptation of the fairy tale Rapunzel: Set in an appropriate culture, environment and era for the original story, this might not be so much an adaptation as a more personal retelling. We discover - or re-explore - very often through narrative memory, Zel's origins, how she came to be locked away, and how the "prince" (a count in this version) came to discover the maiden in the tower. I really enjoyed the writing and the rhythm of the book, the "fleshing-out" of the story was great. I like knowing the details. And all the details Ms. Napoli gave us were believable, and fit and enhanced our expectations. The parts we expected were there, and the extra details (which I never heard previously and believe were the author's creation) just made the characters more real. The very end could have been slightly more challenging but it was satisfying nonetheless. I think any adult who likes fairy tales will enjoy this book, but be aware it was probably written with teen to young adult in mind. I will be reading further books by this author.