The Goose Girl is a charming fairy tale retelling. Princess Anidori, crown princess of Kildenree, has her own talents, but they are not talents that her mother believes will make Ani a proper ruler someday. Because of this, in a treaty with a neighboring nation, Ani is promised in marriage to a prince she has never met, and sent off on a long trek into the forest with her closest lady-in-waiting and numerous guards.
Before they reach the end of their journey, however, Ani’s lady-in-waiting proves treacherous, and she is overthrown. Her beloved horse is lost to her, and she finds herself alone in the forest as the girl she once considered a friend takes on Ani’s identity so as to marry the prince herself.
While trying to regain her rightful role in this new country, Ani becomes a servant tending to geese. She also meets many wonderful people, and, as you probably know since this is a fairy tale (and so I do not consider this a spoiler), gets her happily-ever-after.
The Goose Girl is sweet and enchanting, with characters who will steal your heart. Shannon Hale’s prose sparkles, and the world of this book, vividly imagined by its talented creator, is easy to get lost in. This novel is beautiful and magical and poetic, captivating enough that I can’t wait to read its two sequels. I thought it was a lovely book, as you can tell, but I have to say that I expected to think it was the best book ever, based on the devotion of some fans, and, well, I didn’t. I thought it was wonderful, but perhaps not as remarkable or unique as I hoped to find it, so that was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps caused by my unnaturally high expectations. Although perhaps I need to read it again, as Miss Erin, whose opinion I trust (she’s one of the reasons I read this book) counts it as a book that she fell “head-over-heels in love with upon rereading,” but “merely liked…the first time around.” I still enjoyed every minute of it, and believe that Shannon Hale is a master of the genre she writes. So, particularly if you enjoy fairy tale retellings, pick this one up–you won’t regret it.