The Princess and the Hound, by Mette Ivie Harrison

TITLEI have to admit that what first attracted me to The Princess and the Hound was the cover: a beautiful princess in a bejeweled green velvet dress standing solemnly but regally, her loyal and noble black hound alert by her side.  Surprisingly, the book isn’t primarily about the girl or her dog. Instead, the tale is told through the eyes of a young prince named George, heir to the kingdom of Kendel. As a child, George is intrigued by his mother’s ability to speak to animals….in their own tongue. Her mastery of the horse language is especially amazing. George quickly learns that the Queen’s special gift—and his own developing talent for the so-called animal magic—must never be revealed. Throughout the kingdom such magic is equated with witchcraft or sorcery and its practitioners put to death if found out.  Like his mother then—and especially after her early death–George finds he must live only a strange half-life, never fully bonding with anyone lest they discover his dreadful secret. When he comes of age George learns that he is to marry young Princess Beatrice of Sarrey …who has her own secrets that she shares only with Marit, the wild black hound who is constantly at her side. George senses a different kind of magic at play here, but the aloof, almost hostile Beatrice shares nothing with her betrothed. What will George lose if he at last unleashes his animal magic to save Beatrice and Marit from the spell that binds them together….and what will it mean for the princess and her hound?

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