Comus
 

“But if you drink from my glass, all my riches are yours.
You will be queen in this palace, and happier than you have ever been.”

Comus, by Margaret Hodges, is a short, picture book version of the archetype, based on an older tale by John Milton. A young girl named Alice (of all things!) becomes separated from her brothers in the strange, dark woods at night when she foolishly suggests they leave her to look for the path home. She is then approached by the adversary, Comus – an evil magician dressed in robes who beguiles her and leads her to his castle. Meanwhile, her brothers are befriended by a good spirit who helps them in their quest to rescue Alice. The castle is filled with creatures part animal, part human, dressed in gaudy costumes. Alice is enthralled, unable to move from her throne, a queen for Comus, who is now revealed as a satyr-type creature. The brothers burst in to fight the adversary, but he escapes. So the good spirit calls on a powerful river goddess for help, who dissolves Alice’s enchantment so they may all leave.

Although this story is missing some points (including the all-important self-motivated qualities of the heroine, who in this case is saved by her brothers rather than saving herself), it still has the spirit of a Girls Underground plot. It is especially reminiscent of a Bluebeard type tale, albeit with a much younger protagonist.

Also notable are the enchanting illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, which make it worth picking up on their own.

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