Fairy tale deconstructions are nothing new. Back in 2001, Shrek rocked theatres with its parody, but still made waves due to its witty, charming nature, while teaching the important lesson of self acceptance, and that true beauty is on the inside.
If you’re looking to binge read a fairytale with the same themes of loving oneself as they are, then Cursed Princess Club by Lambcat should be on your reading list.
Set in a fantasy land that still has the familiar, modernized take (this is a subversion after all), the story is about a young princess named Gwendolyn. Unlike her siblings, who are picture-perfect royalty, she gets mistaken by most people as a goblin or a witch.
But being a sheltered girl, she was only exposed to nothing but a supportive and loving family. It never occurred to her that she looked different, until she accidentally overheard her fiancée from an arranged marriage lambast her looks.
This, in turn, makes her spiral into a low point. Having doubts about herself, she runs off into a forest where she meets the members of the secret “Cursed Princess Club.” The club is a support group for princesses who never found a cure to their curses and didn’t have any happily-ever-afters. Their motto? That everyone is worthy of love despite their curses.
Admittedly, Gwen is not easy on the eyes, compared to her siblings who look like they came out of a '90s shoujo anime. She has greenish skin, with bulging eyes, slit nose, and sharp teeth. And yet, she wins everyone over with her kindly personality.
Her family dynamic is also a far cry from wicked stepsisters and evil fathers. Her siblings encourage her every step of the way, her brother Jaime is always helping her sort out her emotions when she cannot express them properly.
And even though her father can be quite overbearing and protective to a fault (and we say this—a REALLY big fault), he makes time for them by playing board games and giving sound advice.
This comic can be a balm for those who are trying to sort themselves out and have been damaged by internalized negativity.
Each character has their own personalities and quirks and flaws, like Princess Syrah who, despite being the club’s resident hedonist, will always bring good advice to the table when it comes to romance. And Gwen’s mentor and president of the support group, Princess Calpernia (who is fondly known as Prez), despite her own secrets and issues to deal with, is a cornerstone that the group relies on.
With themes of accepting oneself, learning how to confront people properly, and unlearning toxic behavior by gently treating yourself, it also teaches that people can’t solve your problems for you—even if they help you, it’s ultimately your decision to change. This comic can be a balm for those who are trying to sort themselves out and have been damaged by internalized negativity.
In later parts, they also address the topic of bottling up bad emotions and constant negative thoughts that make it hard breaking out of a cycle. This webcomic is great in helping people address difficult emotions that people would rather ignore.
Even though there are webcomics who have way better art than this one, the writing is what makes it stand above the rest. There are other, well-drawn comics that focus on addressing unrealistic beauty standards, however, Cursed Princess Club handles this topic with equal parts sensitivity and an almost-holistic way in addressing the damaging way it makes people view themselves and others as well.
The author knows when to balance out the humor when the tone is serious, as well as properly developing individual characters while improving their relationships.
This works as the princesses go around and bond with their fiancés, and the princes figure out their emotions and attachments towards them. This is shown through arcs, such as Prince Blaine’s realization of whether his attraction towards Maria is simply superficial and shallow and tries his best to get to know her better. However, the best example of relationship-building in this series is Frederick’s slow burn romance with Gwen. It’s more fun to read through and brings the right amount of kilig to the audience.
The tone of this comic can range from funny to heartbreaking, to suspenseful. And speaking of tone, this webtoon is accompanied by a soundtrack that’s also made by Lambcat herself!
If anyone wants to read something that’s lighthearted and sweet, but at the same time, enlightening and kind, give Cursed Princess Club a go! It’s available on Webtoons and updates every Monday!
(Images from Cursed Princess Club/Webtoons)