The Prince and The Dressmaker

“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.”

Prince Sebastian is feeling the pressure to find a bride. His parents think it will a great step on his way to become the king they know he will be someday, but Sebastian only wants one thing— to be himself, and to be loved anyway.

When Sebastian meets Frances it feels like fate; she needs a job and he needs a dressmaker, and a friend, who he can confide in. She makes a retinue of extraordinary gowns for him that any woman would dream of and, at night, he gets to wear them out into town as the beautiful Lady Crystallia.

However, as Crystallia’s fashion gains attention throughout the country, Frances begins to feel her dreams of something greater starting to fade under the weight of secrecy. Both she and Sebastian must make a choice about how much of their lives they truly want to be hidden, who they want to be, and untangle their feelings for each other along the way.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is not only now one of my favorite books, it is an absolute delight.

It makes me infinitely happy that this book even exists, let alone that it’s so good. I read this in one sitting and I couldn’t have stopped if I tried. For someone who usually reads darker fare, I was surprised at how quickly this adventure swept me up. I was further surprised that a graphic novel, a format I didn’t read much of until last year, was one of my favorites of the year. I couldn’t count the number of people I’ve recommended this to…

Jen Wang does a spectacular job. Not only is the story bright, funny, and colorful, but so are the characters and the illustrations. Frances and Sebastian are relatable and easy to love, and I was more and more happy to root for them as I got to know them better. Their friendship, maybe more, is the true gem within this story. Which is saying something, considering that the rest is excellent too.

Wang’s illustrations are colorful and simple, a perfect mirror and complement to her writing style. The story itself is simple, but in the best way that allows the reader to focus instead on all of the ruffles, sequins, and pins of the story. Literally, and metaphorically. Flipping through The Prince and the Dressmaker is like putting on a pair of rose-tinted glasses and I never wanted to take them off.

By the end, especially after the (truly) iconic climax, I was happy, satisfied, and my heart was so full. On bad days, I will pull out this book and read it again and again, remembering that there are beautiful and wonderful things in the people around us, and ourselves.

“When I first learned the truth, I thought Sebastian’s life would be ruined. But seeing you, I realized everything would be fine. Because someone still loved him.”