The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale
The first novel by the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Princess Academy is
similarly set in a fairy-tale world. This is sensible, since the story itself is a
classic fairy tale, embellished with richer detail and deeper characters. It is the
story of the lovely princess who is supposed to marry the sterling prince, but whose
plans are upset by a ruthless usurper. Before the heroine can get the boy who is
rightfully hers, she must bide her time as a lowly goose girl, escape from deadly
perils, develop fantastic powers, and above all, become the take-charge kind of
person her queenly mother never managed to make of her.
The princess Ani grows up believing she is fated to be the next queen of Kildenree.
Instead, on the day of her royal father's funeral, she finds out that her mother has
other plans for her: marriage to the heir of the kingdom across the mountains,
marriage to ensure peace with their stronger and more aggressive neighbors.
Regretting only that she cannot be the leader her mother meant her to be, Ani begins
her journey to the kingdom of Bayern, accompanied by a lady's maid and a band of
guards. But the lady's maid proves to be as ambitious as her guards are disloyal,
and Ani finds herself hunted, lost in the forest, helpless to stop her
ex-lady-in-waiting from taking her place and marrying her prince.
Helpless, that is, except for the other young beast tenders who become Ani's army.
Helpless except for her gift of communicating with animals and even, more and more,
with the very wind. Will that be enough to save her when Ani crashes what was
supposed to be her own wedding, and when she must face an angry king and stand against a
wily imposter with the gift of persuasion? Will that be enough when she is trapped
alone with the people who have been trying to murder her? The outcome is so
uncertain, after all, that you may well feel as if an ice cube had been dropped down
the back of your shirt.
This is a delightful fantasy romance, told by a voice abounding in delicious imagery
and mysterious poetry. Hale really knows how to turn a phrase, and how to grab a
reader's feelings. And she also creates a world worth visiting again; which makes
the sequel, Enna Burning, welcome indeed.
Recommended Age: 12+
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