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This is an English YA fantasy novel. It's certainly at least 20 years old and likely more.

The setting is fairly standard medieval fantasy. The protagonist is an ugly girl who has been enslaved by a witch. In her time doing domestic chores she has learned to talk to some of the animals around the house. Eventually she escapes, taking the animals with her - I believe there are four, give or take a couple. One is definitely a fish. She meets up with a knight who has been cursed by the same witch to have armour that will always be rusty. They go on a quest together, with spoiler results that I will add only if necessary.

marked as duplicate by eshier, Edlothiad, Rand al'Thor Feb 10 '18 at 15:07

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  • Weird coincidence... scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/140662/… – Valorum Sep 14 '16 at 22:11
  • Not too much of a coincidence. I read that question, and it reminded of this one, which was why I asked about it (although I was sure it was not the same book). I never read the others in the series, or knew there were any, and I didn't expect them to have such similar answers. – DJClayworth Sep 14 '16 at 22:18
  • Ah, well there you go. – Valorum Sep 14 '16 at 22:28
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This is The Unlikely Ones by Mary Brown, the first book in the Pigs Don't Fly series.

Thing is a young girl who hides beneath a mask. Her companions include a crow, a toad, a goldfish, and a kitten, each in some way handicapped. Never has there been a more unlikely band of unheroic heroes. Yet each needs the other to discover what they all seek -- the Dragon of the Black Mountain, who can restore them to health and happiness.

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The third chapter tells of a knight who resists the same witch’s advances, and is cursed to wander with a broken sword and rusty armour until he asks for the hand in marriage of the ugliest, most deformed woman in the world and then will be tied to her for life.

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