Review: The Princess and the Snowbird

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Princess and the SnowbirdThe Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison
Series: The Hound Saga #3
Published by HarperTeen on May 4, 2010
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 232
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
Goodreads
two-half-stars

She is the headstrong daughter of the hound and the bear, heir to all her royal parents' magic and able to transform at will into any animal she wishes.

He is an outcast, a boy without magic, determined to make his way in the forest beholden to no one.

Though Liva and Jens are as different as night and day, from the time their paths first cross they are irresistibly drawn to one another. Each wrestles with demons: Liva with the responsibility that comes with the vast magic she's inherited, Jens with the haunting memories he's left behind. Separately, they keep a lookout for each other and for the immense snowbird whose appearances signify a dark event on the horizon.

When a terrible threat surfaces, Liva and Jens set out in an attempt to protect all they hold dear. Much is at stake--for while their failure could spell an end to all magic, their success could bring them together at last.

Even though I have read and enjoyed the previous books, I still found the marriage of the hound and the bear a bit…odd and unsettling. Still, they made better parents than any of the others in the book. Plus, Live got some super sweet powers out of the deal: she can turn into any animal. I so wish I could do that; it would be my childhood dreams come true!

This fantasy novel, much like de Lint’s The Painted Boy, is much more about Liva’s internal battles than her battle with evil. The final conflict concludes swiftly and anticlimactically, leaving another two chapters in a short book. The focus is on her coming to terms with her humanity. In some sense, the ending reminds me of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, of how dark it is and how everything isn’t perfect.

As a consequence of that, the most interesting aspects of the novel were the philosophical. Mette Ivie Harrison’s fantasy world clearly reflects the way humans destroy nature, poisoning it and taming it to meet human needs. Her world definitely appeals to me, with the animal languages and the different kinds of magic. What I love about this, although it’s a bit preachy, is the message that humans are no better than animals. It has always been a major pet peeve that we humans consider ourselves better than our animal counterparts. So many people claim that we are different from animals, that we aren’t animals. Except for the part where we totally are. So, Mette Ivie Harrison, you rock for sharing my (totally correct) opinion. Also, I met her at ALA very briefly and she’s a really sweet woman!

I recommend this book to those who enjoyed the previous books in the series. Although this one is not quite as good, it is a short read and thought-provoking. I would not suggest beginning here if you have not read any of the other books, since I think aspects of it would be confusing and off-putting.

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