If you love fairy tales, adventure, whimsy, emotionally complex characters, and imaginative world-building, you have to read Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel!
You must know by now that I absolutely adore fairy tale retellings. That alone drew me to Grounded, along with the adorable, vibrant cover. But when I read that Megan Morrison had been developing the land of Tyme for over 10 years, co-founded a Harry Potter fanfic site back in 2003, and had a fantastic blurb from Leaky Cauldron founder Melissa Anelli my curiosity was at an all-time high. If Melissa believed that Grounded was as imaginative and charming and all-encompassing as Harry Potter, it had to be… right? I am so happy to say that it IS!
I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that I would more readily give to fans of Harry Potter. It’s not even anything like the wizarding world. It’s the intangibles, the whimsically detailed world building and sense of history, the fascinating characters, the dichotomy of good and evil and the realization that there is a very large gray area in between that gives credence to the comparison. Grounded is also incredibly well written, funny, and exciting. It’s an exhilarating MG fantasy and a pure delight to read. I was swept away on this magical, emotional journey that I hadn’t expected!
Morrison’s Rapunzel reminded me of a mix of Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled and Cress from The Lunar Chronicles, but with more attitude. She has only known her perfect, magical life in the tower and everything that Witch has ever told her. When a thief named Jack appears at her tower claiming that her life is a lie, Rapunzel is furious but it sets off a chain reaction that kick starts her adventure. It’s actually frustrating to read at first since you know that Jack is right, but you really earn Rapunzel’s story this way.
Watching Rapunzel change and experience the world is fascinating. She is suspicious and naive but Jack reluctantly teaches her on their quest and Rapunzel learns how to be a friend to others, and how to trust her own instincts as well as other people. She wrestles with weighty ideas such as morality and love and grief, all in age-appropriate but thoughtful ways. And she and Jack are a liiiittle too young to ship (there isn’t romance in the book to speak of) but their gradual friendship is heartwarming and of course, I hope it blossoms in the future! They both have courage and charisma to spare.
Grounded is a funny book with charming locales and characters. It’s also quirky- Rapunzel has a pet frog and is a great jacks player. She is often blunt to the point of being rude, but incredibly full of life and love. There are princes and towers and fairies and secrets and lost loves. There is a lot of action and traversing the country. The Ubiquitous store seems right out of Diagon Alley. And as with every good book, there is more to Witch’s story than meets the eye.
The world feels BIG but you never feel lost in it as a reader. I wanted to explore it all, learn more about the Hundred Year Day, the different realms, the magic, and history of Tyme. It’s going to be a companion series so we’ll get to meet new main characters and hear their stories while old friends pop in and out. I’m so excited about that concept!
It’s a joyful book but it’s dark at times and doesn’t shy away from the notion of death, much like Harry Potter. It’s smart, descriptive, and full of fairy tale magic. I can’t recommend Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel highly enough, it’s one of my favorite books of the year! I bought a finished copy immediately after returning my library book :)
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
Series: Tyme #1
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: April 28th 2015
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Buy the book! | Goodreads
In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so—her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can’t imagine any other life.
Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He’s the first person Rapunzel’s ever met who isn’t completely charmed by her (well, the first person she’s met at all, really), and he is infuriating– especially when he hints that Witch isn’t telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised … and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.