Princess at Midnight is the story of Holly Crescent, a preadolescent girl who lives a cloistered existence in a narrow townhouse somewhere in England. By day, she’s homeschooled by an overprotective father alongside her twin brother, Henry. At night, she’s magically transported to another plane of existence, where she reigns as princess of Castle Waxing. Instead of squaring off in the classroom with Henry, Holly engages in a land dispute with her kingdom’s sworn enemy, the Horrible Horde.
Princess Holly isn’t a milquetoast regent—she’s brash, irascible, and frequently unsympathetic; more Boudica than Belle. When ogres from the Horde attack her favorite picnic spot, Holly declares war. Her chancellor, a dragon, suggests drawing up a treaty to declare the area common property, but the princess will not be persuaded. “Share?” she barks. “I’m a princess, I don’t do sharing.” Someone fetch the smelling salts!
Waking up in her own bed when the cockatrice crows, Holly spends her daylight hours consulting biographies of Napoleon and planning her offensive. That night, she unleashes her troops on the Horde and takes the day. But Holly spies a hill in occupied Horde territory and claims it for herself.
Princess Holly isn’t a milquetoast regent—she’s brash, irascible, and frequently unsympathetic.
That’s when things get dicy. Emboldened by her victories, Holly leads Castle Waxing forces into a full-fledged invasion of the Horde capital. “I may as well defeat them now while I have the chance,” she reasons to her advisors. “Otherwise they’ll be forever raiding the border and might even take a shot at Castle Waxing one day.”
But warfare is expensive, particularly when your fop of a general shows more enthusiasm for “haute couture platemail” than strategy. Before long, Castle Waxing’s political machinations have depleted the royal coffers. Whispers of revolution begin to circulate throughout the realm, eventually reaching the ears of the Horde warlord.
Holly can’t quite put her finger on it, but there’s something awfully familiar about him.
Princess at Midnight first appeared in the pages of The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga. In 2008, Image Comics republished the story, presenting a slim, self-contained graphic novel that contained 10 new pages.
Four years later, writer and artist Andi Watson began uploading panels from the comic online, breathing full color into his original black-and-white line art. But Watson’s ending leaves the reader wanting for a resolution, a sentiment he must share, since Holly’s adventures continue today as part of the weekly lineup at Saturday Morning Webtoons.
Both the original story—the Image Comics version is currently out of print—and its ongoing sequel can be read in their entirety at pmidnight.blogspot.com, gratis and ad-free.
A certain princess could probably learn a thing or two.