Cover Image: The Transfigured Hart

The Transfigured Hart

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Member Reviews

This was very sweet and short, and extremely evocative. Yolen is amazing when it comes to fantasy for every age as far as I'm concerned and this was no different. I didn't realise it was basically a middle-grade level story, which in retrospect makes sense considering the dialogue and all, but even then it was still really lovely to read! It feels like it's about believing and the innocence of that belief at a certain age. Like being in the cusp of child and teenager?? IDK if that even makes much sense but this is worth reading if you love Yolen. I wouldn't say to go look for it on its own, but if it's in a collection you should read it for sure.

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'The Transfigured Hart' by Jane Yolen is a reprint of a novella that first was published in 1975. It's definitely the kind of YA book I remember reading.

Richard and Heather are neighbors. Heather is good with animals and Richard likes walking in the woods for solace. When they each find what seems to be a unicorn, their first reaction is that it is their own discovery. That feeling goes by the wayside as the creature is threatened by hunting season. These two young people form a friendship over their protection of the animal.

Jane Yolen has long been a favorite authro and this gentle book of friendship and the love of nature reminded me why I like her so much. There is nothing bombastic that happens here, and that makes the story feel even more likely. That two lone pre-teens in the woods would stumble across something so extraordinary feels like it's something that could happen.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Tachyon Publications and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.

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This is a lovely little fairy tale like magical realism like story. Richard and Heather are both 12 years old and both of them have seen the white deer. Richard thinks that it must be a unicorn. They both want to save it from the hunters. We get to know Richard, Heather, and the deer individually and together as Richard and Heather develop an unlikely friendship. I truly enjoyed the story and I think that children and adults alike will enjoy it as well.

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The Transfigured Hart
Actual Rating 2 stars

I did not enjoy this novel one bit. The reason for this dislike is the fact that the two main characters are so young. I personally enjoy reading novels where the main characters are similar to my own (this of course is a personal preference). I believe that if I had read the book when I was roughly the same age as the main character I would have enjoyed the book great deal more.

I think that anyone who enjoys a quick read with elements of fantasy will enjoy this book and the main characters featured within its story. I want to say once again that I did not enjoy this novel due to personal preferences and personal preferences only. Everything else about this book was nice the writing and the prose was beautiful and the plot was interesting the only thing inhibiting my ability to enjoy this book was the age of the main characters.

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A sweet modern fairy tale written in Yolen's inimitable style. Somehow timeless and magical even with the mundane everyday waiting in the background. This story took me right back to the sense of breathless wonder I could feel as a child, waiting for something magical to happen. It's extremely short, but I wouldn't have made it a word longer. Lyrical perfection.

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An enchanting tale of a boy, a girl, and a wild woodland creature. This beautifully written tale begs to be read aloud. The language is magical and the storytelling is captivating.

Yolen's short tale of friendship, magic and the beauty of believing is a must read.

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The Transfigured Hart is a beautiful allegory that captures the innocence of childhood belief and the magic of both the ordinary and the fantastical. This is a delightful tale that will be treasured.

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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Richard is a quiet boy who enjoys being alone and reading. One day, while reading in the woods, Richard sees just for a moment a strange white creature that he’s certain is a unicorn.

Heather is an energetic girl who likes going on adventures. One day, she rides her horse into the nearby woods and catches a glimpse of a creature that she reasons must be an albino deer.

When Richard and Heather each go back later to find the creature, they instead find each other. Though they disagree at first about what they saw, they agree to keep it their secret; whatever it is, it is theirs and theirs alone. But they will soon realize that it will be difficult to protect–both the secret and the creature itself.


The Transfigured Hart is quite short; my electronic copy is just over 70 pages, including front and back material. This means that it’s a quick read, but it also means that there is limited time to establish and develop characters and a story. It takes a very good writer to do it well. Fortunately, Jane Yolen is such a writer.

Both Richard and Heather are realistic and well-developed. Despite how little time there is to develop them, I feel like I can understand and relate to both children. The story is well-done too. In regards to the story, the short format of a novella compared to a longer novel works well, because the events take place over only about a week, so the shorter format makes it feel like the relatively brief moment in time that it is.

This story, particularly the ending, doesn’t always seem to make sense or have an explanation for what’s happening, but it’s not supposed to. It’s a story about magic and growing up, and I think what happens and how it happens works well for that purpose.


🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5 stars

The Transfigured Hart is a short and sweet coming of age story about two children going into the woods and finding a unicorn, each other, and themselves. If any part of that (even just the unicorn part) sounds interesting to you, I suggest you give this novella a read.

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The Transfigured Hart, a 1975 novella by the talented Jane Yolen, was recently republished as part of Tachyon Publications’ Particle e-book imprint. It’s a lovely, evocative tale, juxtaposing fairy-tale-like fantasy and a contemporary rural setting.

Richard and Heather are twelve-year-old neighbors with vastly different personalities who barely know each other. Richard, an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle, is an introspective loner. A long bout with rheumatic fever has given him the habit of reading, and the habit has remained with him. Heather is an enjoyer of life and people, and she particularly enjoys going off by herself on adventures. But both Richard and Heather love the Five Mile Wood.

When his aunt and uncle think he’s leaving the home to play with friends, Richard is actually going to hide in the woods and read a book in peace (something I deeply identify with!). Heather rides her gray appaloosa horse Hop into the woods to explore. Richard and Heather each independently catches a brief glimpse of the white hart that spends most of its time by the hidden, crystal blue pool in the woods. Richard is convinced it’s a unicorn; Heather, more pragmatic, immediately determines that it’s an albino hart. But when boy and girl meet in the woods, they both understand how important it is not to share their secret with others, even if they don’t agree on what they saw. Heather wants to believe Richard’s firm opinion that they’ve seen a unicorn, though. And both agree that they want to see the unicorn again, and tame it.

Yolen takes the ancient legend of the unicorn and sets in our logical world. The sense of magical realism surrounding the white hart (is it a unicorn?) contrasts with the mundane concerns of the real world, like Richard’s social isolation at school and Heather’s teasing older brothers, avid hunters who she knows will shoot the white hart if they can.

The two main characters, Richard and Heather, are well-drawn, with distinctly individual traits. Their budding relationship appears entirely innocent and platonic, but Yolen weaves in meaning-laden symbols, like a wine-stained handkerchief and the unicorn itself. It may be a suggestion that all is not as it seems, or perhaps a hint of what lies in their future.

In between the chapters that tell the children’s story are brief interludes from the hart’s point of view. The Transfigured Hart has a bit of an edge to it, particularly when the hart is tracked down by a deerhound and a brief, bloody encounter ensues. It’s a brief, shocking scene, a reminder that death can cruelly strike at a moment’s notice.

Readers who are fond of classic fantasy like Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn are likely to enjoy The Transfigured Hart. It’s imbued throughout with a delightful sense of childlike wonder.

"What could one do with a unicorn? Look at it and long for it, and love it."

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Beautiful fairytale-like story. This book takes place in present time. Two kids find an albino deer and become convinced that it is a unicorn. They come together to see if they can save it from hunting season. This story is beautifully written and reminds me of a book I would read to my daughter for bed.

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First published in 1975, The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen is getting a new edition thanks to Tachyon Publications. It remains an enchanting tale about the power of belief and the importance of trust.

The novella sits squarely in mythopoeic tradition, in that liminal space where it's never quite clear what's fantasy and what's reality. The two children have very different ideas about the creature they spied in the woods: for Richard it's a unicorn, whereas Heather is certain it's an albino stag. And even though some of the story is told from the perspective of the creature, this doesn't settle the issue. Nor is it supposed to; it's the sort of story that allows space for the reader's interpretation.

Told in third person, it alternates between the focusing on the creature, Richard and Heather. Although nominally a middle-grade novel, it makes no effort to dumb down the language--rather to the contrary, in fact. Having been a precocious reader, I really appreciated this. The sentence structures were somewhat simplistic to begin with, but this is less about talking down to the audience than it is about invoking a fairytale atmosphere.

Having been written more than 40 years ago, one might expect the story to be a bit dated. And in one or two places it is. For example, Heather is required by her parents to leave a note on the fridge whenever she goes out. These days, she'd be more likely to have a mobile phone and send a text message. However, much of the action takes place in the forest, which gives it that fairytale sense of timelessness.

The story should come with a content warning for animal death... although probably not the one you'd expect. And, as with many unicorn stories, there's also a subtextual theme of sexual awakening. However, this is very underplayed (being mostly down to the symbolism) and is likely to bypass most young readers (and probably more than a few adults).

All in all, The Transfigured Hart is a delightful read that shows why Jane Yolen is a master of fantasy.

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I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for an electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This story was plain and simply magical. I read it during a beach vacation and it was perfect. It grabbed me right from the beginning. The imagery is exquisite and the plot flows with ease. It's one of those books that you could read as a kid and later as an adult and it will feel new and different and relevant each time. I love that the reader never really knows what's real and what's imagination created by the main characters. Is there a unicorn? Is there not? It perfectly embodies this idea that we should keep our child-like moments at heart, that we should not lose the ability to daydream, that we should savor childish play and make-believe, and that we should listen to our intuitions and not out-logic everything.

This is for sure a book everyone should have on their shelf!

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I’m not much of a fan of “coming of age” stories, whether in book or film. They just don’t appeal to me. The Transfigured Hart however, is a cut above. It is the story of a young girl and boy named Heather and Richard. At first glance they are nothing alike. Richard is unfortunately physically weak, an introvert but a voracious reader. Heather is bold, lively and adventurous. They both have chance encounters with a creature they see in the woods. They don’t agree on what the creature is, unicorn or hart, but both agree that it needs to be protected.

The story is magical, full of lush imagery and description. The two children are complex characters who act like real children, not with the false precociousness we see in some books. These two navigate the step over from childhood fantasy to young adulthood in the midst of a fairy tale of their own making. Or is it? Was it a hart or a unicorn they encountered in the woods?

I haven’t read any of Ms. Yolen’s other works, but I’ve seen her praised by other bloggers whose opinions I respect. I really need to pick them up. I also need to re-read this book. It’s a book to be savored and I didn’t realize that. I read it far too quickly. It is a good book for a quiet afternoon. I would recommend reading it with a good soundtrack, a cup of tea, a cat and a soft blanket. Yes, excellent plan.

Song for this book: The Dark Night of the Soul – Loreena McKennitt

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The Transfigured Hart is a short story by Jane Yolen. Like many of her other tales, it’s based on common folklore and is beautifully written. I’m honestly a little surprised I’ve never read this one before, but I’m glad I took the time to do so now.
When I was growing up my favorite story was the Last Unicorn (yeah, I know, I still cry every time I see/read it). This tale did a wonderful job of reminding me of both it and my childhood, and for that I’m very grateful.
I do think that at times the story lulled on, and I would have liked a bit more character development as well. Or maybe it was just the dialogue that sometimes got to me – that actually sounds more accurate. Otherwise this really was a lovely story.

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Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the transfigured hart (Jane Yolen)

Title: the transfigured hart

Author: Jane Yolen

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Publication Date: Available Now!!! (e-book)

ISBN: 978-1616961626

Source: NetGalley

I have been a Jane Yolen fan for eons.  So when I saw this amazingly beautiful cover, I had to know what it was about. 

This is a truly wonderful story about two young kids, who unbeknownst to each other, each catch a glimpse of a ghostly white creature in the woods.  Richard is convinced it is a unicorn.  Heather is convinced is a white deer.  Both want to tame it.  They don't count on running into each other by the crystal, shimmering pool in the forest.  Danger is lurking for the beast.  Heather and Richard slowly realize that they must work together to not only determine what the creature is but also in order to save it.

Jane Yolen is one of those magical writers whose stories are rich in imagery and defy neat categorization.  This complexly woven tale is delightful.  It doesn't necessarily feel complicated when reading it.  Younger readers will be drawn into the mystery of the creature, the evolving relationship between the two teens, and the adventure that ensues.  Older readers will love the unicorn history sprinkled in the tale, the rife symbolism, and the beautiful writing style. 

I was completely immersed in the tale and was left in a lovely state of mind pondering the outcome of the story when I finished.  I will certainly reread this in the future.

If ye want to find out what the beast in the woods turned out to be, then pick up this fantastic tale.  Arrr! 

So lastly . . .

Thank you Tachyon Publications!

Side Note: Special thanks to James DeMaiolo, Marketing and Publicity of Tachyon Publications who kindly sent me a copy of this novella when I missed the deadline for downloading it on NetGalley after I was approved.  I be forever indebted.  This story be beautiful!

Goodreads' website has this to say about the novella:

Is what Richard saw in the woods really a unicorn?

Heather and Richard have little in common. A voracious reader growing up in a large house filled with books, Richard is a sickly child that spends most of his time alone or surrounded by adults. Heather is comfortable in a crowd, but nonetheless sneaks away on her appaloosa pony for lone adventures in woods.

One evening after dinner, Richard spies a strange, white deer in the fading light of the woods. It leaps away into the thick brush, but Richard is certain of what he’s seen: a unicorn. And Heather—out for a ride on her pony—has also spotted the unusual hart.

When Heather and Richard meet, they cannot agree on what they’ve encountered, and they definitely do not want to share their secret. But they will soon discover that their mutual help is indeed much-needed.

Beloved, award-winning author Jane Yolen has created a magical tale of coming of age yet still believing in the seemingly impossible. The Transfigured Hart bounds into the wonderful in-between world where adults rediscover childhood wonder, and children can enjoy the fantastic tale right along with them.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jane Yolen - Author

To buy the novella go to:

the transfigured hart - Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

a plague of unicorns (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

a glory of unicorns (On the Horizon - Fantasy)

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While Jane Yolen first had The Transfigured Hart published in 1975; this short story is one that can easily transcend decades and generations. Known for her fairy tale narratives, Yolen takes the story of a 'white deer' (aka. unicorn) and tells of two unlikely friends brought together my the search for the unicorn.

Beautifully written and in the style of Grimm or Anderson; if you are looking for a 'new' fairy tale to read that has that older style of lyric writing I believe you will really enjoy The Transfigured Hart. For me this was a refreshing read as I have been reading a lot of intense historical fiction or bad YA tropes. It was the perfect little read.

There's really not much else to say except that this is well worth the read. And you may find that you become addicted to Yolen's style of fairy tale writing. Luckily if you are she has a whole collection of published works, including some that have won the Nebula World Fantasy awards and many other accolades.

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Richard vive nei libri.

Silenzioso, curioso, timido, ama la pagina scritta, indifferente o infastidito dai coetanei con cui non ha potuto giocare a lungo, malato.

Heather ama il mondo, in tutte le sue espressioni. 

Animali, luce, alberi, persone, acqua che scorre, la musica della natura sono il suo pane quotidiano.

M quando si incontrano si sentono immediatamente uniti dalla meraviglia: quella di un animale bianco, luminoso, bellissimo, che solo loro hanno visto - un cervo albino, come crede prosaicamente Heather, o un unicorno, come suggerisce Richard?

Nel periodo liminare che scivola dall'infanzia all'adolescenza, i due bambini/ragazzi cambiano, nella scoperta di sé e dell'altro, e nella necessità di proteggere la vera magia: quella in cui credono, reale o meno.

Una storia delicata e senza tempo, che conferma (se ce ne fosse bisogno) la ricchezza di temi e stile di una delle grandi narratrici del nostro tempo.

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A short and and very sweet book, about two lonely kids. Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications

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ARC Copy...very much contains the magic meets "real world" wonder in a bite size serving. Very good unicorn read.

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