Content/Trigger Warnings: Public/forced outing, implied transphobia, intoxication, scene of implied sexual assault/date rape vibes, abandonment, chronic social stress, anxiety/panic attacks
“I’m a prince who likes dresses.”
The Prince and the Dressmaker follows the story of two main characters. Our story starts by following a dress designer named Fraces, who designs a devilishly wicked dress that outrages the women at a royal ball, but captures the attention of our second main character. Prince Sebastian is as nervous as he is flamboyant prince who just so happens to also love wearing dresses and wigs. When the two come together, they become a well-oiled machine and a beautiful friendship begins to bloom, and maybe into something more! But things are never that simple, when an amazing opportunity is presented for Frances, things start to get complicated and soon everything the pairing knows will fall into chaos.
I have absolutely fallen in love with this graphic novel! You know those books that give you back a little piece of faith in humanity, this is one of those books. This graphic novel is super cute, super sweet, and it will melt your heart. This is exactly what I needed to push me out of a small reading slump and push me to read my bigger books. It completely melted my heart. If you like books that are similar to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, then this is the graphic novel you should check out.
This graphic novel follows two wonderful main characters. We follow Frances who is an aspiring fashion designer and then we follow Sebastian’s journey as he struggles with navigating being the Prince of Belgium and being Lady Crystallia. Our characters meet when Frances’s work is discovered at the Royal Spring Ball when one of Frances’s clients came in and told her to make a dress that was ghastly and made her look like the devil’s wench. Soon, the pair end up taking Paris by storm at night as Frances makes these beautifully stunning dresses and Lady Crystallia (Prince Sebastian) dazzling everyone in sight. But by day, the Prince has to go back to being the Prince and attending matchmaking dates and Frances keeps his secret locked away tight in her heart. A heart-warming friendship slowly blooms between them and then into something more, but when Sebastian’s secret threatens an incredible opportunity for Frances, things begin to spiral out of control.
“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.”
I loved the way these characters were so real and the way their friendship naturally and realistically blooms into something more. It was so genuine and Jen Wang has an incredible way of visually showing their emotions and weaving those into the panels when words are exchanged between our two main characters. And speaking of visuals, the illustrations really fit the tone of the book. They’re simple and cartoonish. It truly suits the tone of this book and at times really sets the mood for that panel on that specific page.
Both characters are so lovable and so unique, and as this graphic noble develops, you’re going to see some pretty amazing side characters too. Most importantly, the character development of Frances and Sebastian (and the King!) was done so well that you can’t help getting caught up in their own journeys in this graphic novel. And before I forget, that ending was probably the most captivating end and I was so happy to see how that all played out.
I only had two issue with this graphic novel that I have advised in advance. I’m not a fan of public outings of people. It can definitely be triggering and how that all played out made me cringe. So that’s one of the main things to caution with and know that at some point, that will happen in the graphic novel. The other thing I didn’t like was how Prince Marcel came off in one of the panels. It came off as “the guy who can’t take no for an answer” or “no means yes” vibes and it made my skin crawl. For me personally, after he grabbed Sebastian by the wrist, I got instant date rape vibes and the level of anxiety that was triggered from wanting to know if Sebastian was going to be okay, was unreal. And one thing I want to stress, if someone is intoxicated from alcohol, that does not give you the right or okay to touch them or put your hands on them in any manor, make advancements on them in implied sexual or romantic ways…If the person can’t give you a coherent answer or they’re trying to walk away and leave then you have no business with that person and get someone who can get them home safely.
Overall, I loved this book and it was a great pick me up from my reading slump. This gave me such life and motivation to tackle my tbr again. It was such a cute, fun, and exciting read. It’s super quick if you’re looking for something that you can read within an hour or two. This is definitely one graphic novel that will keep you smiling and when you look at it, you’ll get a smile on your face. Other than those two issues, I really loved this book and adored every moment of it.