“Yo, Rapunzel!” by Kyle Kirrin (5464 words)
No Spoilers: Twisting fairy tales and especially the one of Rapunzel, the story takes the titular character and makes her decision to live in a tower in the woods a choice made freely, the men seeking her out intruders who don’t care about her or her happiness, merely their own desires and plans for her. Along with a dragon (who looks like and is the size of a house cat), and occasionally visited by a Time Wizard, the Princess (as she is called by the story itself) dispatches them with ridiculous and hopefully-impossible Heart Quests that leave her single and them hopefully learning a lesson. But when one “knight” shows up on a miniature donkey with an unorthodox approach, it sparks something that might be just what both of them need. It’s a fun, playful, delightfully profanity-laden piece, defying its fairy tale roots while still very much offering up a happily ever after.
Keywords: Quests, Fairy Tales, Dragons, Knights, Board Games, Box Wine, Friendship
Review: I really like the voice of this story, which is in some ways anachronistic and modern but in other ways just so very Tired that it works. Plus there’s a Time Wizard, so claims of anachronism sort of go out the tower window. And really it’s just so charming and cute, from the dragon-cat to the miniature donkey to the way that they all just want to step out of the roles that are expected of them and play board games and drink wine and try to feel free from all the pressure to be something they’re not. There’s definite chemistry between the Princess and the Knight, but at the same time it’s not _necessarily_ romantic chemistry. They like each other, that much is obvious, but neither of them really want to get involved in that way. But that doesn’t mean they’re not a bit lonely, that they’re not a bit isolated by the ways they don’t fit into their roles. And in each other they find someone who understands, even imperfectly. And it’s that sense of unburdening, where they can finally have another person to hang out with who’s not a dragon or a Wizard or a smol donkey. The action is fun, the Heart Quests adorably vulgar, and entire piece subverts the tropes of fairy tales while still holding onto the idea that people can have their own happy endings. It’s just that it doesn’t mean finding the right romantic partner and having kids. Here, it means having a deep and rewarding friendship, where both people just want to hang out and have fun without having to worry that something else is building, that suddenly it will Get Weird because romantic/sexual feelings came into it. It’s a fun romp, irreverent yet deeply affirming for those who find comfort in the towers that other people might assume are prisons, but aren’t. A wonderful read!