Originally released in 1975, The Transfigured Hart is a beautiful, sweet novella by Jane Yolen. Proving that the world-renowned fantasy author has nigh universal appeal, the digital re-release by Tachyon Books reads as though the book was released a week ago, sans the presence of smart phones or computer technology.
The story centers around two young teenagers, Richard and Heather who separately come upon a unicorn, and have to decide how to work together, in order to see the unicorn once again.
Both Heather and Richard, despite having different interests are presented as being intellectual equals, with Heather depicted as the more emotionally mature of the pair, which – for anyone who has known a thirteen year old boy – is highly accurate.
The writing is beautifully lyrical, as we have come to expect from Yolen, but also has the refreshing rhythm of argumentative teens thrown in amid the dialogue.
The story is a grounded and entertaining depiction of a well-worn fantasy trope, but is handled with care and finesse by Yolen. It is fascinating to see how she integrates teenagers into the magic of the Hart’s domain, and how the real magic that occurs is between two very different people solidifying an enduring friendship.
And isn’t that the joy of fantasy? Of seeing traits you wish you had and traits you wish you didn’t reflected in people who witness magical scenes? Jane Yolen will always be a lyrical superstar and a moment spent reading her stories is never a moment wasted.