Have you ever felt like the prince that saves the damsel in distress was a little off? Than Glenn Matchett, Alena Lane, and E.T. Dollman’s short story “What the Heart Wants” in Outré #5, which you can download for free by clicking here, is the story that you have been waiting for.

Written by Glenn Matchett with beautiful art work by Alena Lane, it tells the story of a prince who desires a young maiden he sees bathing one day. He does not want to go through the time consuming process of wooing her and making her fall in love with him so he comes up with a scheme. He is going to plan a kidnapping and save her. I will stop my plot description there because I think that reading the rest of the story with some surprises adds more to it, also I spoke to Hatchett and this is where he stopped his description so I trust his judgement.

Furniture

I have to say that I adored this story, and after speaking to Glenn about the kind of stories that he is attracted to telling I am not surprised. Citing Buffy, Alias, and Terminator as media that he loved, Glenn enjoys taking something old and putting a new spin on it. Anyone who has seen the film or the stage show Into the Woods will be no stranger to the idea that the handsome prince may not be all that he seems, but Glenn allows the reader here to get a closer look at the problem by putting us inside his head, and by allowing us to receive his backstory. It is not a story of struggle or of unfulfilled desire like many of the other stories in the anthology centered around this theme, but instead the story of a many who has always gotten everything he has ever desired. Not only is this a good change from the other stories in the anthology, but it is also changes the way the prince thinks about desire. When desires are always fulfilled perhaps they are not always as fulfilling.

happily ever after

The story is also aided by the extremely gorgeous artwork by Alena Lane. Glenn told me that he was writing for her, and her style could not be more complimentary to this story. With a good combination of reality and fantasy elements, the princes are portrayed as valiant, the beasts are disgusting, and the maidens are fair. Lane makes the reader feel as though they have truly been transported into the pages of a fairytale, which helps all the more when Matchett’s script subverts the princely savior trope. Much like any work that seeks to comment or deconstruction a cliché, the characters must still exist within the world that the story is commenting upon, and Alena’s beautiful art does a ton of work to get us to the old world of knight’s and damsels.

Overall, Matchett and Lane have worked together to create a beautifully drawn story that adds a new twist to the tired damsel in distress genre. If you like smart storytelling than you will enjoy this short story. I also highly recommend the rest of the anthology. The other stories about desire are also very enjoyable, and I think reading them along with this story gives a good spectrum of ways to understand the concept of desire in general. A definite must read!

Score: A

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