‘Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess’ - Advance Trade Paperback Review

Imagine being in a world where everyone around you is special and extraordinary, but you’re the odd one out for being ordinary. That’s what’s happening to Princess Basil, the seventh daughter of a king and queen who was blessed with being ordinary while her sisters were blessed with beauty, humor, and other special talents. Extraordinary, written and drawn by Cassie Anderson, is a story about a girl who isn’t “normal” and who seeks adventure, looking for purpose.

Solid illustrations are nothing without an equally solid story, but Anderson’s art really lends itself to the story. Everything is drawn with a purpose, from the background of the trees to the way Basil appears next to everyone.  In fact, to exemplify Basil's plainness in contrast with the other characters, she is drawn differently. It’s similar to how Saitama from One Punch Man is drawn: plain and unassuming. Even when she’s given an enchanted dress, when Princess Basil puts it on, it just looks plain, especially given the reader’s relative understanding of the word.

The story explores the disappointment of not meeting others' expectations and letting the failure of those expectations define you. Basil isn’t the only character this is showcased through. Every character Basil is introduced to, from the Dragon Frederick to the adorably evil henchman Bang and Flash, all subvert expectations, a common theme running throughout the 200 pages of the comic.
One of my favorite scenes is heavily reminiscent of Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug. In fact, it plays off a lot like that: Basil enters the sleeping dragon’s layer to find a special ring. But again, subverting expectations is what Extraordinary is all about, and instead of an amusing verbal interaction, we’re given a hilarious moment of panic and glee.

Anderson definitely has something to say in the story. The message seems to evoke a line from Morticia Addams: “What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” Although no one is eating anyone here, normal princesses are beautiful and skillful, but Basil isn’t a normal princess—she’s ordinary. And that’s kind of the point the story is making: Being ordinary is different than being part of the norm. Everyone is unique on their own, but we’re also a little normal and that’s okay. Actively pursuing uniqueness to be unique ignores who you really are.

Extraordinary is about finding out who you are and being your own person. It’s a story that everyone should read when feeling down about the way their life is going. Sure, we’re not born into royalty or blessed by a disgruntled fairy, but we don’t need any of those things. We just need to get up and choose our own way. It may be hard to achieve what we want in the world, but the point of fantasy stories isn’t to tell us that dragons are dangerous and hard to overcome, but that dragons can be defeated. We all have a dragon to overcome in our life, and even if we’re not "special," we can still defeat it.


Creative Team: Cassie Anderson (writer and artist), Rachel Roberts (editor), Jenny Blenk (assistant editor), Patrick Satterfield and Ethan Kimberling (designers), Christianne Gillenardo-Goudreau (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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