I finished reading Arnica the Duck Princess by Ervin Lázár, an old Hungarian children’s story, just a few hours after I picked it up and within moments of it decided that I was utterly and hopelessly in love with this so adorable I could die story. I don’t really know what I expected when I requested this book, but I can say without question that the story that was delivered into my hands is a precious and beautiful thing that I will forever be exceedingly happy to have read. And while I may not have been immensely in love with the artwork when I first began reading, it fortunately did grow on me as I progressed through the small children’s chapter book. It’s not my favorite kind of art, but it was still enjoyable to see as I read and much better than a book that didn’t have any illustrations within.
Arnica the Duck Princess tells the story of a Kingdom in which a young Princess lives with her father who has decreed that his daughter shall only marry the one that she loves. A witch lives within the forest at the edge of the kingdom and must trick someone into becoming her slave in order to keep her magical powers so when Poor Johnny comes trotting through the forest she immediately sets her sight on him. Of course, Johnny has no intention of falling for her tricks and is soon rushing out of the forest. In no time at all, the angered witch has caused him to fall and injure himself, resulting in the princess finding and nursing him back to health. Though they soon fall in love and intend to marry, the nasty witch from the forest eventually curses them so that while one is a person, the other must be a duck. Meanwhile, as you read the tale there are various asides of two people discussing the story itself–from what I recall, it was a mother and her child.
A big reason behind why I requested this book lies in the fact that it very much left me thinking of The Swan Princess, a story that I have loved deeply since I was a child. This story is definitely unique in its own right, with wonderful twists and turns throughout and I couldn’t be more pleased with the tale I spent my evening reading. The story is an incredibly clever and inventive fairytale that I enjoyed deeply and will most certainly be getting myself a physical copy of at some point in the future. If you enjoy fairytales and are looking for something wonderful and whimsical to read, I would definitely suggest giving this book a chance.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.