Title: The Door in the Hedge
Author: Robin McKinley
This is a collection of longish short stories, all with a fairy-tale feel.
The Stolen Princess – In the last mortal kingdom bordering the realm of the faeries, children go missing relatively often. When a princess is stolen, the balance begins to change between the two countries. This has a familiar setup, with a bit of a twist on the conclusion.
The Princess and the Frog – I liked this take on the princess, the jewels she drops, and the frog himself. It sets the tale in a more concrete kingdom, and brings in a seemingly unstoppable evil, and gives the princess more to do with the ending. It is a bit confusing, though, why the frog actually turns back into a human. It doesn’t seem what happened would have been something to break a curse.
The Hunting of the Hind – This one also takes elements of several fairy tales and weaves them together. A golden hind which drives men mad has struck down the prince, who vowed to stop it from affecting his people, and his little sister steps up to save him.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses – This is probably the best-known fairy tale of the set, and there aren’t any huge surprises here, except for the challenger being an old, retired soldier instead of a young and handsome prince. I liked this one best, because of the way the old soldier approaches life, and how he’s not swayed by the young and beautiful in quite the same way as everyone else. He feels more sorry for the princesses than anything, and even wonders if they want to be saved from their enchantment.
As much as I like these (and I have read this set before, though I can’t think if it’s been more than once), I don’t feel the same draw to them as some of the other books McKinley wrote. These are interesting stories with beautiful language, but they also leave me feeling like I’m done when I finish, rather than feeling like I want to go back and read them again.
Overall, though, it’s a quick read, and worthwhile if you’re at all a fan of fairy tales. I rate this book Recommended.