The Princess and the Hound

The Princess and the Hound

3.8 107
by Mette Ivie Harrison

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He is a prince and heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the forbidden animal magic.

She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from all except her hound.

In this lush and beautifully written fairy-tale romance, a prince, a princess, and two kingdoms are joined in the aftermath of a war.

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He is a prince and heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the forbidden animal magic.

She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from all except her hound.

In this lush and beautifully written fairy-tale romance, a prince, a princess, and two kingdoms are joined in the aftermath of a war. Proud, stubborn, and bound to marry for duty, George and Beatrice will steal your heart—but will they fall in love?

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Courtney Wika
Prince George of Kendel is overwhelmed by the responsibilities in his life. Not only does he have the dark secret of "animal magic" that he must keep hidden from everyone, including those closest to him, he also is haunted by the less-than-ideal relationship with his father, King Davit. After the death of his mother, the only person who truly understood him, George must come to terms with his father's illness, his impending kingship, and his looming marriage to the seemingly coldhearted Princess Beatrice of Sarrey. George is surprised to find, however, that he is strangely drawn to Beatrice and the fierce bond that she has with her hound, Marit. What he learns in the end is twofold: that what he once deemed a curse of character is really the best part of him, and that love does indeed have the power to heal. Although older readers might find some of the plot devices contrived, most will form a strong connection to the flawed and ultimately relatable protagonists, George and Beatrice. The novel will appeal mostly to fantasy fans who appreciate magic and anthropomorphism. It offers a refreshing spin on the male adolescent coming-of-age story, as George rejects the violence of battle and sport hunting and instead finds strength in animals and nature. Animal life is valued in this story, and the novel advances messages of honesty, tolerance, and self-acceptance. The fairy-tale ending may seem too sweet, but it is a just and deserving end for the two protagonists.
Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
The story opens with the legend of King Richon, whose cruelty to animals ultimately led to his becoming one, a bear. Ever since that time, those who possess animal magic have been killed or forced to keep their talent hidden. One such victim was Queen Lara, who died when her son was just five years old. He, Prince George, is the story's hero. Like his beloved mother, the prince has the animal magic. However, he has decided to keep it hidden. Then, at age 17, George meets Princess Beatrice, the beautiful but cold young woman with a distant expression whom he is to marry. Her only companion is a hound named Marit; the two are inseparable. At first, Beatrice's coldness suits George just fine; he does not want to care for her, since he knows that losing a loved one can be painful. Over time, however, he grows fond of both her and Marit. His affection is unrequited. Dr. Gharn, the physician who is allegedly treating the king's mysterious illness, describes Beatrice as being two women in one. Eventually, it comes out that Gharn, seeking revenge for his daughter's death, has not only poisoned the king but also turned the princess into the hound and vice versa. When George suddenly realizes it is Marit he truly loves, he determines to free her from the spell. This well-told story is peopled with complex characters and interwoven plots far too numerous to summarize. It is rich and romantic enough to please many a reader.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2007: With the language and feeling of a fairy tale, Harrison tells a story of a prince, George, who is capable of speaking the language of animals, a talent he inherited from his mother. This is forbidden, punishable by death, in their kingdom. George understands that he has to hide his ability, even though repressing his relationship with animals causes him to be physically ill; he must escape to the forest every so often to contact wild creatures and become well again. Prince George grows up, and when his father is dying, George is sent to the neighboring kingdom to meet the princess who will be his wife. Princess Beatrice is a strange girl whose closest tie is with her dog, but George soon knows Beatrice doesn't possess the ability he has of speaking animal language, so her relationship with her hound is something strange. The hound seems human. Whoops—I told. There is plenty of good vs. evil in the struggle and George is a likeable hero, a nuanced character who is sensitive to the needs of others while he is also trying to be strong and brave. Well written and intriguing. Harrison has a Ph.D. in Germanic literature and her intelligence and love of language shine throughout. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
Prince George must keep his ability to talk to animals a secret. In Kendel, animal magic is punishable by death, and the fear and loathing toward practitioners is reminiscent of the witch hunts of medieval Europe. Even as royalty, George cannot reveal his secret. Lonely and isolated, George accepts his betrothal to Princess Beatrice as a political alliance, expecting never to trust enough to find love. But when George and Beatrice meet, George is drawn to Beatrice and the beautiful hound, Marit, who is her constant companion. In the pair, George finds not only trust but also others whose lives have been touched by animal magic. George is not a typical Prince Charming, but Beatrice has the feel of a damsel in distress. Both need rescuing in their own ways, and Harrison sets up a story that draws readers into their growing relationship. George, the infatuated prince, is an atypical fairy-tale narrator. His perspective adds depth and insight to his character, but Beatrice's chilly personality is less developed. Her isolation is just as apparent as George's, and he is drawn to her through their shared loneliness. George's growth from prince to king is admirable, especially as he learns to accept his shortcomings and his secret abilities and forgive himself his past mistakes. His "rescue" of Beatrice and Marit is a bit confusing, but Harrison creates a story with a fairy-tale feel that will keep fantasy fans turning pages happily ever after. Reviewer: Anita Beaman
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
In the kingdom of Kendel, anyone caught talking with the animals or practicing animal magic is put to death, so Prince George learns early on to deny that part of his identity. He does everything for the sake of the kingdom, even if it means agreeing to an arranged marriage with Princess Beatrice from the neighboring kingdom of Sarrey. But Beatrice has a striking and unusual relationship with her hound, Marit, and George finds himself drawn to the pair, and to that part of himself that he has ignored for too long. He is faced with many decisions, including how to help his dying father, and how to free Beatrice and her hound. The story is interrupted at times with philosophizing, hints at the princess's secrets, and related mythology that might prove frustrating for unsophisticated readers. Strong characterizations can't make up for the uneven plot, and most readers are unlikely to stick with this lengthy tale.
—Melissa MooreCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Like a tale spun out over many winter evenings, this moves at a stately pace, and even its climax is measured. It begins with the story of King Richon and the Wild Man, and how the king became a bear. His descendant, the young Prince George, shares with his mother the ability to understand animal speech and lives, which is forbidden in the kingdom. When the queen dies, George is left with his secret and the burden of feeling he cannot be as good a king as his father. When George is betrothed to a neighboring princess who is always accompanied by her dog, it takes him a long time to tease out the relationship between the princess and her hound, despite his gift. The author ably delineates the power of the forest and its creatures and explores the difficulty of how to know another, even one's father or one's betrothed. Not for readers who want fast pacing or strong action, but still a well-told tale. (Fantasy. 12-14)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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The Princess and the Hound

Chapter One

Prince George could not remember seeing his father without the crown on his head, except perhaps in bed, and even then the imprint on his temples was clear enough. But the crown could have been melted down or stolen away, and it would not have mattered. George could see kingship in every movement his father made.

When King Davit spoke to Cook Elin, he always complimented her on how well suited her cheese was to her tart, how her salad reflected the colors of the autumn mountains in the distance. George had no idea if his father liked the flavor of the salad or the tart. He did not know if his father knew either. He knew only that the king had a duty to offer approval to his subjects who strove to please him. And the king always did his duty.

When speaking to the scarred and muscular lord general of the mounted army, King Davit nodded and talked wisely of the best way to deal with the effects of the war. George had no sense of what the war had been like for his father, whether he had been afraid of the sound of the enemy's war cry, as had the guardsman at the gate. The war was the kingdom's war, and so it had been fought.

Even when George was alone with his father, it seemed there was no difference. The king told George the story of the baker who had made too many loaves but at the end of the day would give none of them to the poor and then found in the morning they had been eaten by mice instead.

The king told George of the seamstress who left an unfinished seam in a fancy ball gown, thinking it would never be noticed, then went to the ball herself—only to watch the gowngradually spin away from the wearer until she stood in nothing but her undergarments and wrath at her betrayal.

In the stories there was always a message for George to remember. For the prince of Kendel, from the king. Never a story for fun, with magic and wildness, with adventures and threatenings and the promise of more to come. Never a story that made George want to cry, or to laugh, or to dance. Only a story to make him think.

And though George had seen the king's servants take off their uniforms and play like children outside in throwing or wrestling games, he never saw his father play. His father smiled when it was right for the king to smile. He frowned to show the king's displeasure. He was always right and good, but he never felt like a father.

Yet George's mother, for all she wore long gowns with glittering jewels and even the fragile, ruby-encrusted crown on her head when she had to, seemed to be his mother no matter what else she was. For when she looked at George, whether she had come to his own chamber to play with him or held out her hand for him to meet her in the throne room, she had a way of making him feel complete in himself. And as though there were nothing he could do that would make her turn away.

That look was the most wonderful thing in the world.

She started taking George to the stables before he was old enough to speak his own name. That was where he learned to recognize the smell on her hands and sometimes even the dirt beneath her nails. She seemed most alive there, and the smell of the stables fit her as the crown fit his father's head.

The horses perked up when she came close to them, before they could possibly have heard or even seen her. They began to stamp their feet, and their heads came up, all turned in the right direction. George used to think this was a delightful trick and would clap his little hands in delight.

"This is Sugar," his mother said, introducing George to the new foal that stood shakily in a stall with his mother, Honey.

George held out his hand. The little foal came and licked at it, and George laughed at the delicious, gentle sensation.

His mother then bent over and gave Sugar the full attention that she often reserved for George.

He might have been jealous, but she kept her hand warm in his the whole time.

Then she brushed Honey until she shone, and Sugar too, talking with every stroke. Nonsense words, it seemed at first to George, but gradually he began to understand them. They weren't human words at all; they were horse words.

Words for things that had no names in his human language, except the words that George made up for them.

Sweet-green, for the smell of his mother's hands.

Warm-red, for the touch of her brush.

Purple-light, for the sunrise in spring.

Summer-burn, for the hot light that made them blink.

They were private words, George learned quickly. For if there were others in the stables who might cross their paths or if the stablemaster had come with her, she wouldn't speak the horse words at all.

She would sing or let out a stream of syllables that had the cadence of the horse words, but left their meaning up to George to fill in. He had grown very good at it by the time he was four years old, and now and again he tried to say a word aloud himself.

His mother smiled at him if they were alone, but if someone else was present, she put a hand on his shoulder and shook her head very gravely. Never with fear in her eyes, but with enough darkness that he stopped instantly.

It was only three or four times before he learned that lesson, and likely those who heard him speak to horses in the animals' own language thought simply that they did not understand his babyish pronunciation or that he was speaking nonsense words as babies sometimes will, even when they are too old to be babies anymore.

George and his mother knew better.

The horses were dear to his mother's heart, but now and again she took George to the kennels as well. George liked how the hounds danced and barked at him, and he was sure that if only he listened long and hard enough, he would begin to understand them. But it did not happen.

Stranger still, he never heard his mother talk to the hounds as she did to the horses. She let them lick her hand, and she patted their heads or scratched behind their ears when they seemed to want it. She knew words to speak to a passing sparrow, but not to the hounds.

Yet she nonetheless seemed to understand them, for when the great white hound that was one of the king's favorites had a tick burrowing behind his left leg that not even the houndmaster had seen, she knew it was there. And she understood when Solomon, the old, drooping hound that had ruled over the kennels for as long as George could remember, was entering the long illness that led to his death. She knew he could not be saved, that the best the houndmaster could manage was to offer comfort.

George could see that his mother did not love the hounds as she loved the horses, but he did not understand why. He thought it was no more than a matter of taste. George knew that his favorite sweet, made light and fluffy with egg and then colored brightly, made his mother shake her head and hold a hand to her mouth, while her favorite, a dark, hard licorice, was no more than passable to him. So it must be with hounds and horses and his mother.

Then, on the day of George's fifth birthday, his mother took him to the houndmaster, a great big man with a red face and a broken nose who laughed too loud. He stood up when George and his mother entered, and at his feet George saw one of the bitch hounds and a litter of newborn pups. They were slick and wet yet, and the houndmaster shook his head at the queen's ability to know that the bitch had been delivered of them just this minute.

The Princess and the Hound. Copyright © by Mette Harrison. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In an enchanted land, Prince George is a young man who has always kept a secret. He, like his mother, was born with the ability to talk to animals, a gift shunned by the rest of the kingdom. In fact, anyone found with the "animal magic" is burned at the stake to get rid of the "evil." When his mother dies, George is left all alone and seeks refuge in his own private world.

Then a marriage arrangement is made with the princess of the neighboring kingdom.

Neglected by her father, Princess Beatrice is shy and reclusive, only trusting her own pet hound. Can George ever get through the cold barrier surrounding the princess and find out what secrets she also hides?

This compelling novel takes a unique and interesting spin off of the usual classic fairy tales. THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND is full of imagination and will be sure to intrigue readers longing for more than the usual, romantic prince-meets-princess tale. I would recommend THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND to all fantasy lovers looking for a new flavor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When i first started reading this book, i was so excited about what would happen. It sounded like the perfect romance. However, the plot proved more twisted, the characters more confusing, and how the book was written in general was rather difficult to follow. i found myself having to go back to previous pages to try and understand what had happened. Even then the book was still good. Then i got to about the last four chapters, and the whole thing totally fell through. Those last chapters were just unbelievably cheesy. I couldn't take it. I was just waiting for the 'And they lived happily ever after' at the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story captivates the heart and allows for the imagination to run rampant with the story of a prince who feels like an outsider and a young princess unloved by her father and carrying a deep secret that she can only trust with someone that can truly love and understand her.
IrishLemonsickle More than 1 year ago
This book is unlike any other I've read. The storyline is the most captivating part, for certain. But each character has secrets and is unpredictable, which is always refreshing in a book. It has an incredibly slow beginning, in my opinion, and I almost put it down after the first few chapters of the "storyteller/flashback" style of writing with so little detail/in-depth description. But once the writing style switched over to the present time in George's life, the story seemed to leap to life for me and became so much more enjoyable. I recommend this book to anyone who loves mature writing, fairy tale plots, twists and turns, magic, romance, animals, or just a pleasant read. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story was based on a really cute and interesting story line. The author did a very good job writing and putting together all of the events. I would recommend this book if you like stories that take place in the I do. However, some parts of the book tend to get boring and sometimes confusing...but if you get through them then it'll be worth it.
kellie0223 More than 1 year ago
I have the paper version, however; this was the first book I read by this author and it is still my favorite.
Ragsy More than 1 year ago
As a high school teacher I was looking for something that would appeal to teenagers--yet be a fun read. The kids loved the book. The idea of animal magicry(sp?) was an excellent topic of discussion and the teens enjoyed the concept. As a fairy tale it was beautiful!
englteach More than 1 year ago
I was very excited about reading this one, and it definitely had potential, but for me, the story simply fell flat. I wasn't emotionally connected with the characters, though they were well-drawn. I didn't "feel" the romance or even find it credible. Why did George, a lifelong recluse, decide after a few meetings that he loved Marit? And what was with the hound and the bear? Did they know each other previously? How were they able to love each other the first time they met? Also, the conflicts between George and his father and Marit and her father were too easily resolved. The story was overlong, and the events, predictable. I finished it, but I didn't really enjoy it like I was hoping to.
curled-up-with-a-book More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of classic literature you will definately be a fan of this. It isn't first person like so many books now are and it isn't character driven, even though you do love the characters. This book is story driven and that is sooo rare to find lately. It's a story that you can easily read to your children and you'll both be in love.
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God really buy it cause it good buy it!!!!!!:D
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This is not a bad book. Good story some emotion invovled everything is pg. Hope you like it.
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