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A Reader of Fictions: The Animal Song - Savage Garden

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Animal Song - Savage Garden

The Princess and the Snowbird
Princess, Book 3

Mette Ivie Harrison
fantasy, young adult, bildungsroman

Brief Summary:
In the same fantasy world where The Princess and the Hound and The Princess and the Bear took place, Harrison's latest focuses again on the divide between animals and humans. At one time, all animals, humans included, had aur-magic, a good life-giving magic, until humans began to turn it into tehr-magic, which they used to tame animals and set themselves above. Now there are even ways to remove both kinds of magic from humans, animals and plants altogether. Liva, daughter of the hound and the bear, has inherited a lot of aur-magic and a desire to save the world from the tehr-magic, along with the last of the snowbirds.

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.

"I've been having difficulties keeping to myself
Feelings and emotions better left up on the shelf

Animals and children tell the truth, they never lie

Which one is more human

There's a thought, now you decide

Compassion in the jungle
Compassion in your hands

Would you like to make a run for it

Would you like to take my hand

Cause I want to live like animals

Careless and free like animals

I want to live

I want to run through the jungle
the wind in my hair and the sand at my feet"

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