The sixth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings, officially began March 21st, and it ends June 19th.
"This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology.
Rule #1: Have fun.
Rule #2: HAVE FUN.
Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!
Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word 'challenge'.
Over the years various well meaning, and not so well meaning, people have tried to dismiss this kind of literature as childish, no longer relevant, escapist, etc...
The literature that falls into these categories speaks to me in a way that no other literature does. I think it is all the history. Ancient folklore and mythology inform so many types of stories and there is something very special about those fantasy stories that in some way build upon that foundation. They are not kids stories to me. They never were. But they do retain the magic that they had when I was a child. And I am thrilled that it is that time of year for us to share these stories with one another."
“Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~William Butler Yeats
This is my first year participating, so I chose the simplest challenge level: The Journey.
"By signing up for The Journey you are agreeing to read at least one book within one of the four categories during March 21st to June 19th period."
My one book was chosen for me, it seems. My mother and I visited a used bookstore, Gottwals, to use a gift card. I found several books I'd read before and wanted to own, along with a few writing books, but only one novel I had not already read: The Princess and the Hound.
I found myself with nothing to read less than a week later, so I pulled this book off my shelves. I almost put it back and chose a book I knew I loved; but I told myself I'd paid for it and therefore ought to read it, if only to know whether I liked it.
The Princess and the Hound was nothing I expected. For one, it is about a prince whose life is deeply affected by the titular characters, rather than about those characters themselves. For another, the story centers around a fantasy world full of forbidden magic and lives that are separated by centuries yet still connected. The story was woven together so beautifully and unfolded in a much more realistic and natural way than most novels written today.
From the dust jacket:
"He is a prince, heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the animal magic, which is forbidden by death in the land he'll rule. She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from true human friendship but inseparable from her hound. Though they think they have little in common, each possesses a secret that must be hidden at all costs. Proud, stubborn, bound to marry for the good of their kingdoms, this prince and princess will steal your heart, but will they fall in love?"
This is no ordinary love story, nor is it a simple fantasy novel. It is a tale of magic and trust and humanity, of the way a single person's life can be so deeply affected by another's. This is not merely a story of a girl and her dog, or of a prince and princess's love, but of two countries and the persons and forces within them. The Princess and the Hound is for readers seeking a fantasy deeper than the novels of today.
As a personal opinion, I give it four stars. But as a literary work, I give it five.