Princess Arnica is kind, gentle and well-loved. Her father King Tirunt, despite occasional angry rages, is a fair man who wants his daughter to marry whoever she chooses. She duly falls in love with a young wanderer, ‘Poor’ Johnny. However, all doesn’t run smoothly when Johnny is cursed by a wicked witch with a hundred disguises. As a result, Johnny and his love are bewitched, with one of them at all times in the form of a duck.
They go in search of the seven headed fairy, the only creature able to break the spell. On the way they have some strange encounters, meeting Tig Tag and his band of robbers, a woe begotten chap called Victor Coppermine who constantly taking umbrage at everyone he meets and twelve brothers who quite literally feel each other’s pain.
The story is written in a lively style and interjected with dialogue between the adult narrator and a child. The child’s questions and comments and the adult’s responses create a pause in the narrative, providing space for reflection on events and the issues raised in the story. This is a very effective device allowing readers to consider important questions such as the nature of love and freedom, whether every cloud really has a silver lining and whether there can be such a thing as ‘good’ anger.
This story is the first from esteemed Hungarian author Ervin Làzàr to be translated into English. It is a very attractive volume with striking full page colour illustrations in folk art style. A very enjoyable read.