Rose is one of three daughters of a rich merchant who always brings gifts for his girls from the market. One day Rose asks for the seed of a blue bean, but he fails to find one for her. She lets out a sigh in resignation, and her sigh attracts the Sigh, a mysterious being that brings the seed she desired to the merchant.
But every debt has to be paid, and every gift has a price, and the Sigh returns a year later to take the merchant’s daughter to a secret and distant palace.
I picked this one up the other day when I went to a signing and talk by Tom Gauld in Leeds, I’d not come across it before, but it was apparently released last November. It’s not so much a graphic novel like her other works, it’s more of an illustrated short story, but one I thought would be perfect to read during the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.
I’m not sure if it’s based on an existing fairy tale, but it does have a very traditional feel as if it could be. The story follows Rose in to Ah, the Sigh’s distant world. Where she lives a comfortable life, a visit home, causes her to look at her new life with new eyes.
She ends up discovering something wonderful, then almost as quickly losing it. Driven by guilt she repeatedly sells herself into slavery, trying to make amends for her mistake.
It was a lovely little story, with a typically strong ‘message’ as you’d expect from a fairy story, and some wonderful accompanying artwork, but if I’m honest, I think it could have done with a little more meat-on-the-bones, to make it a really satisfying read.
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