Sunday, November 24, 2013

Princess Hynchatti

Princess Hynchatti and some other surprises is an early-ish book by Tanith Lee.  It's not the first thing I read by her as a kid - that would be Delirium's Mistress, which my 8 or 9-year old self bought because Winged Lions! Long Hair! Ruined Buildings.  Thank you Michael Whelan cover art for hooking me up with a lifetime favorite writer.

Ok, but Princess Hynchatti.  These fairy tales are somewhere between A. A. Milne, T. H. White, and Patricia Wrede in tone.  Gently sarcastic, very aware of conventions even as they play with them.  Wicked witches want to win prizes for most-wicked, and forgetful enchanters accidentally enchant their own daughters. Spells are broken by common sense and kindness. Princess Dahli is a current favorite of mine, with a princess who handles a Cinderella-like role in very clever fashion.  Another princess, trapped by a Rapunzel-like curse, takes matters (and her unruly hair) into her own hands. 

The stories are consistently sweet without being saccharine.  It's often easy to forget that writers who can and do write dark and wild and erotic can also write sweet and gentle.  Throughout her career Tanith Lee has written children's and YA books as well as adult work, and these stories are lovely fairy tales.