Castle Waiting, Vol. 1 - Linda Medley, Jane Yolen
I love this book, and I am not in the least bit ashamed to admit that, even in the face of its more, shall we say, Hallmark moments. Reading this while I have been also reading the Bane origin story, [b:Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1|12623655|Batman Knightfall, Vol. 1 (New Edition)|Chuck Dixon|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335301972s/12623655.jpg|17670533] provides a quite opposite experience that offers a bit of refreshment in the midst of a desert of cynicistic violence and rage - a story where a castle for misfits becomes a warm and welcome home, a sort of island for those in need of an escape from the outside world. Starting with the story of a decidedly bubble-headed Sleeping Beauty - which provides a far from traditional retelling of the story - the reader is inundated with a wealth of fairy tale creatures and characters, all who seem to be as real and living as could be.

The story's basic structure is like that of [b:The Canterbury Tales|2696|The Canterbury Tales|Geoffrey Chaucer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1261208589s/2696.jpg|986234], beginning with the tales of the castle itself as well as that of the Ladies in Waiting, before going into Lady Jain's and then, finally, Lady Peaceful's. In the middle of the story is the least interesting part of the book, in which two characters go into the village on business, but thankfully this part of the book goes quickly and melds into my favorite part of the story, in which the eccentric - and awesome - Sister Peaceful tells not only her story, but also relays the tale of both her very special convent and its Abbess. It's storytelling and its finest, at its most pure, and the care given to the characters - especially the female - is a breath of much-needed and fresh air after ingesting some of the garbage of what other pieces of fiction - [b:Twilight|41865|Twilight (Twilight, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361039443s/41865.jpg|3212258], [b:The Stand|149267|The Stand|Stephen King|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1213131305s/149267.jpg|1742269] and [b:Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: End Run|9898038|Birds of Prey, Vol. 1 End Run|Gail Simone|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1341804049s/9898038.jpg|14790224] are just a few examples that strike me as cringe-worthy - believe passes as decent characterization of its female characters.