The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
A woman to love an animal and an animal to love a man is the running theme throughout The Princess and the Hound. As a child Prince George began to speak and understand the language of animals. However, in George’s kingdom understanding animals is considered animal magic and is punishable by death. Thus, George supresses his urge to perform animal magic and keeps it a secret. As a young man George is obligated to marry Princess Beatrice, who is from a rival kingdom. When they first meet he is entralled by Beatrice’s fierce beauty and nature, but is even more intrigued by her relationship with her hound, Marit. It’s as if Beatrice and Marit communicate through some unspoken language. Does she have the animal magic also? In another twist of fate, George is called back to his kingdom to see his ailing father. He returns to find his father in a near death state, being treated by a mysterious Dr. Gharn whom he suspects might be poisioning his father instead of treating him. In the end George finds that all of their fates are connected to the animal magic, and realizes that to be true to himself he must reveal his secret.
Harrison is able to blend medieval history with human psychology added with a dash of fantasy fairytale. (This is no surprise since Harrison does have a PH.D in German Literature. For some reason, while reading this book I kept thinking about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.) What’s also interesting is that Harrison chose to tell the story through a male perspective rather than going for the tried and true princess narrative. Readers of historical fiction and fantasy might find the story familiar to other fare, but will be intrigued with the secrets that lay within this fairytale.