The Princess and the Hound Book Review
Everybody loves a good fairy tale, especially one with a twist you don’t see coming. I think that’s why we all gobbled up Frozen when it first came out. The Princess and the Hound twists a familiar fairy tale in a similar kind of way. If you love fairy tales, particularly “Beauty and the Beast,” medieval romance, magic, and dogs, The Princess and the Hound is the next book you should put on your reading list even though the love story itself completely falls flat.
The Princess and the Hound starts out with a fanciful tale of a cruel king who is turned into a bear, and the history of animal magic. But the bear is not our hero. The story immediately switches over to Prince George, a boy with animal magic destined to rule a kingdom. Unfortunately for him, this is a kingdom where being born with animal magic is punishable by death, even for a king. But Prince George is not our hero either, at least not in my opinion. The reader does not see our hero until about 50 pages in when Prince George travels to a neighboring kingdom to meet his future wife, Princess Beatrice, and her loyal hound Marit.
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It is kind of weird reading a book in which the hero is not the main character, or even a character you don’t see very much. Nevertheless, after a few minor temper tantrums, I got used to seeing the story through George’s eyes. The story has many elements of beauty and the beast but with some twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes. Looking back at The Princess and the Hound, I feel like I should have seen the biggest twist coming but I didn’t until it was almost upon me and there was no time to prepare myself. All the better, it made the book even more delightful.
Mette Ivie Harrison is a skilled writer who weaves her knowledge of Germanic literature and the tropes it possesses into beautiful patterns throughout the book, layering it in all the right places and ways to create a delightful read. That is not to say that the book is without its problems. For being a story centered around love, the romance is almost nonexistent. It follows many of the ideals of love at first sight and courtly love but lacks all of the dirt and difficulty of real love. It is a romance completely lacking in passion or truth, making it a little difficult to root for. The villain is redeemed far too easily as well and most of the characters were somewhat flat; I don’t think it took away from the depth of the book but I would have preferred to see the characters grow more.
Overall, The Princess and the Hound is a beautiful retelling of a classic tale and is definitely worth picking up.
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