Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere

Reading Courtney Crumrin stories really make me wonder. She’s such an odd little character, a girl with no friends and barely any family living in a magical world that is really pretty miserable.

Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere cover
Courtney Crumrin
and the Prince of Nowhere
Buy this book

I suppose many goths (or those sympathetic to such without bothering with the name) enjoy speculating on fantastic worlds that aren’t noticeably better than ours. I admit, I find her more empathetic than many other fictional kids who encounter spells or creatures beyond the normal. Courtney’s dark and creepy, and that’s fun to read about.

The Prince of Nowhere is a followup to the one-shot Courtney Crumrin and the Fire Thief’s Tale. Both feature her and her uncle Aloysius on vacation in Europe. The previous book features werewolves in Romania; in this one, Courtney meets a vampire in Germany.

The meat of the story is their encounters. They’re kindred spirits, both lonely in their own way. Courtney’s been listening to ghost stories of Lady Isolde (read: Elizabeth Bathory). She and Wolfgang play chess (how intellectual!). They bond over their similarities, sounding like they think that they’re the only people who’ve ever felt this way. They talk about how adults stop feeling once they’ve grown up. Courtney wonders if she will ever feel true love. They meet in a graveyard.

The feelings expressed aren’t at all unusual (they’re actually sort of cliched), especially for the audience as I imagine them, but the appeal comes from Ted Naifeh’s art. His spiky-but-cartoony style is very readable and appealing. It’s well-suited to a visit to antique-influenced Europe. His writing isn’t quite as accomplished, although maybe that’s just my reaction to having to wade through several pages of phonetic accent on the part of the castle guide. Nah, I’ll stand by it after re-reading this narration:

She felt like a lost ship after all the continents had sunk under the sea… wondering if there were any other ships out there on the endless, empty ocean.

But the scene where Wolfgang sprouts wings of black feathers, lifts her in his arms, and takes flight over the gabled roofs of the town, that’s gorgeous.

Also, rating this book for ages 7 and up strikes me as erring too much on the side of youth. The whole book is about chasing immortality and seeking alternatives to death. I’m not sure many parents would want their 7-year-old coming to them with the questions this raises. For the older, it has the feel of a modern fable.

This series also makes me wonder about the book market. This slim volume came out in December. Here it is March, and it’s out of stock at both and the publisher. What does that mean? Should I even bother talking about the book, since recommending it will only frustrate people?

Ah, a little research reveals that both this and the Fire Thief’s Tale have been reprinted together as Courtney Crumrin’s Monstrous Holiday, just out, although that book’s reprint status is not at all obvious and the publisher doesn’t bother to mention it. (This has since been remedied.) So I guess that’s the book to look for. Just goes to show that it’s always better for the consumer to wait.

A lengthy preview is available. A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.

9 Responses to “Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere”

  1. Ray Radlein Says:

    I was wondering when another full-size Courtney Crumrin volume was coming out. Since I never caught Fire Thief, the new reprint will be perfect.

  2. Ed Sizemore Says:

    I love Naifeh’s art in these books. It’s a moody series, but that’s part of the charm. Naifeh does a great job with Courtney she’s very intelligent but still a naivete youth. Alyosius is a great reminder that intelligence and talent can’t replace experience and wisdom.

  3. ~chris Says:

    I too wasn’t aware of that Monstrous Holiday was a reprint; I was excited for a new Courtney Crumrin story… *rats*

    “She felt like a lost ship after all the continents had sunk under the sea… wondering if there were any other ships out there on the endless, empty ocean.” I interpreted that as the narration describing how Courtney would describe her feelings. My interpretations are of course my own and may or may not be the author’s intentions.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I’m sure you’re right — I just found the phrasing overwrought and cliched. It’s not exactly a creative or underused metaphor.

  5. Jeremiah Genest Says:

    My kids love Courtney Crumrin to pieces, they are 8 and 5, and eagerly devoured Monstrous Holiday. While we had picked up Fire Thief, we missed Prince of Nowhere when it came out.

    The general feeling in my house was that Prince of Nowhere really changed the dynamic of the series. It just wasn’t as geared for kids as the others. My 5 year old got absolutely nothing from it (thank goodness) and my 8 year old didn’t really understand it either.

  6. Johanna Says:

    That’s a great perspective regarding younger readers, thanks. If the series is changing, that might explain the different takes on whether this is suitable.

  7. Great Graphic Novels for Kids – February 2011 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

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