Fairy tales generally report the news when the main character stumbles on it: a hero can walk right up to a town before hearing that they have to sacrifice a maiden to the dragon every year, and this year the lot has fallen on the princess.
You can do that in a novel. Send the character through wilderness, or at least on a road that's seldom used and rather overgrown. Sufficiently insular people may not care to repeat tales -- though they might tell stories of the dragon as proof that it's more prudent to stay at home. Rumors can get wild indeed, and a tangle of them would be as good as no story -- and that's not entirely unknown in a fairy tale, there was a tangle of rumors about Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Still, the character traveling along roads that people are known to travel by are going to get some news in advance. Has to be fit in. Somehow.