Rebecca's Reviews > The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
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Dec 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, fairy-tales, fantasy, romance, young-adult

Crown Princess Ani of Kildenree has no talent for or interest in eventually ruling her country; she's shy, awkward, self-conscious, and always remembering the aunt who taught her a little of the wild magic still left in the world. Still, when Ani's father dies and Ani discovers her mother has no intention of letting Ani ever have the throne, instead having arranged her marriage to cement relations with neighboring Bayern, Ani is hurt beyond words. Still, she capitulates as always and sets off on the long journey, which will end up teaching her more than she needs to know about suffering and betrayal, but also about loyalty and gumption.

I really liked this story based on the fairy tale of the same name (a tale I must have read at some point, but can't remember), and found it hard to put down. The characters are individual and sympathetic, despite there being many of them, and the world building is subtle but complete. I loved all the details of Ani's new life in Bayern, which gave you just enough information to picture it and understand how different it is from our own lives, but not the intense thousands of words of detail you get from someone like Mercedes Lackey as she builds her worlds (though I'll admit, I like both styles!). I did think that the story is part of a new sub-genre of girlpower fantasies; fantasies featuring a sympathetic but shrinking violet/otherwise unsuitable heiress who must go through the crucible of adventure to discover the personal strengths that will let her take control of her inherited life. I'm mostly thinking of Princess Ben by Murdock, but I think there are others as well. It makes a nice change from girl characters who are essentially boys with better hair and cleavage. We can't all be swordswomen, and in these books, brains and gumption win out over weapons.
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