Just finished The Princess & Curdie. I'd read The Princess and the Goblins years ago, and several times since then, but never managed the sequel.
And my stars, was it ever WEIRD!
I don't think it'll be on my Weirdness Syllabus (Macdonald will be represented somehow, probably with At the Back of the North Wind), but what a strange and disturbing book.
It's all about Curdie, of course, and has the feel of allegory, but its peopled with such oddness - the pack of bizarre, deformed hybrid creatures, for instance. The detail of the punishments meted to the treasonous court. The battle scene.
Most weird - and unsettling - is the conclusion. Curdie and Irene married, then dead and gone -- and the kingdom destroyed by greed.
truly strange. i don't know what to make of the hybrid monsters. i REALLY don't know what to make of Curdie's gift of the "testing hands" - his ability to take the hand of a person, and feel that person's true nature (either true human, or some sort of animal - snake, vulture, ox, mule).
what a weird book. i'm sure there's more brilliance in it than i've yet figured out, but it's just so odd i don't quite know what to do with it.