The Goose Girl
“Anidori Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildrenree, was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue. She spent the early years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of swans. Then a colt was born with a word on his tongue--- his name, Falada--- and when Ani spoke it, she found the key to his language, too. But as Ani’s gift grew, so did others’ mistrust of it, and soon her mother felt she had no choice but to send her away to be the queen of a foreign land.”
A retelling of the Brothers’ Grimm Fairytale.
Recommended Age 14 and up.
I love the feel of Shannon Hale’s prose. Warm, earthy, and rich. She builds the worlds of Kildenree and Bayern carefully and lovingly, in such a way that I felt homesick when I was finished with the book. If an author is able to accomplish such a feat, it’s a big mark in her favour.
Ani is a heroine that I latched on to from the beginning. Her great fear of failure, knowing that she doesn’t measure up to the standards of her mother or the people she’s destined one day to rule, her desperate need for the love of those around her, make her lovably flawed and human. She’s born with the gift of animal-speaking, but that only estranges her from the people in her life. She has to learn to both trust and be trustworthy. Her character arc takes her from timid and aloof, to someone who fiercely loves her home and is fiercely loved in return, even after she’s been uprooted and thrust aside.
Every single character is many-layered, from our poison-tongued villain and her band of mutineers, to the outcast Forest-born, loyal to the core. Enna, Razo, and dear old Talone were some of my favourites.
I think the first time I read The Goose Girl, I finished it in under three hours. The plot is tight and moving, yet takes time to delve into the world of Bayern and taught me to love it as much as Ani came to. It is fantasy, but echoes reality in such a way that I almost expected to be able to hear the language of wind, fire, and water when I stepped outside.
Some violence and blood, but not gory. Some romantic elements. Mostly clean, brilliant storytelling. Not really any magical elements.
The spirituality is this book is somewhat lacking. They adhere to a basic moral code and believe in a creator god, but he doesn’t have much of a place in this world. That, unfortunately, is what keeps me from giving it a full five stars. I love the story-world and the complex characters and the earthy prose, so all in all I give it four stars.
Have you read The Goose Girl? Comment with your thoughts below.