My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A thousand days walk from here, all made in lefts, there was some time ago a young kingdom and a younger King. Even the mountains of the kingdom were young -- sharp and callow and reaching, with a forest thick and thieves and rock upon rock falling over into the sea.The Hidden Princess is that most unexpected of things ... a modern fairy tale that is beautiful, evocative of "classic" fairy stories, and riveting.
The people were as simple as the salt they did without and the young King was not far behind. While the people toiled to squeeze their life from the stony earth, his majesty spilled the blood of the mountains. Animals of every kind, shy and quick, hid in the trees and streams, the rocks and boulders, the cliffs and crags. These were the meat of the royal table and it was often put there by royal hands.
One day the King went hunting, as he often did, alone and on foot. As he walked, he came across a man sitting near a stone ledge with a strange tool in his hand. Coming closer, the tall, straight King cast a shadow on the bent, old man, who squinted and said nothing. ...
The language is beautifully chosen as you can see. What you cannot tell is that The Hidden Princess hews to standard fairy story convention in such a way that you almost think you recognize it (Is it Sleeping Beauty? No! Wait, maybe it is Snow White). It then turns a corner and becomes once again its own tale, until it again hews close to almost recognizable territory.
Because it is a fairy tale and, because we all know the fairy tale conventions, we are fairly sure where this story will end, but the getting there is such a treat that it is difficult to stop reading. I literally kept reading "just one more page" so that I was continually late all day when I read this. When I finished, I went to the beginning and began reading again, which is the sure test of a tale well told.
At this time, The Hidden Princess is available only as an ebook but it deserves to be in print with beautiful illustrations like those by Arthur Rackham or Heidi Holder.