Title: The Princess and the Bear
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Starred Review: Kirkus
“The Princess and the Bear” is a sequel of sorts to Harrison’s book, “The Princess and the Hound”. It is not necessary to have read that one to appreciate “The Princess and the Bear”. This is the story of a hound who was once a princess and a bear who was once a king. Though they live together in the forest they regard each other warily. This is a world of magic whereby humans who have magic can speak to animals and even transform. Magic is a living thing in this world but it is soon threatened by the spread of “unmagic”. When the hound comes across the creature spreading this “unmagic” she and the bear find that they must journey to the past in order to try to prevent this future tragedy from occurring. Richon, the former bear and Chala, the former hound must work together all while dealing with their changing feelings for one another.
This is a beautiful story with writing that can only be described as “quiet”. Though there is violence in the story it is not glorified in any way. The romance between the two leads is interesting in that Chala retains much of her personality even when she is turned human. Richon, who was human previously, has spent so long as a bear that he is also relearning what it is to be human. Add to this the fact that he didn’t like himself much as a human in the first place so he is very conflicted about being in his own past and being worthy of the fierce and loyal Chala. Richon is a conflicted king and his horror at his own actions and his growth and acceptance of responsibility is successfully conveyed by the author. The story will not appeal to everyone since the writing is so understated but for those interested in a world of magic with a touch of romance the book may hold some appeal.