Book Review: The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
★★★★★

Synopsis: She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada. But does she fit the quota of Ruling Queen? Her mother seems to think not, and she is sent off on the start of her adventure. But can she trust everyone she travels with? And what will life be for her when she arrives at her destinations?
From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.
In A Sentence: A wonderful retelling that is 100 times better than the original tale

My Thoughts: I had been holding this story off for a while now, and I’m not sure why. I guess when I had first heard of this story, I wasn’t in the right mood for fairy tales and retellings. But I’ve craving these stories more and more lately, so I finally picked this book up.
This book is a re-telling of a Grimm fairy tale that I had never read before until now. I can see why it needed retelling, since the princess’ inability to speak up for herself didn’t make any sense, but Shannon Hale took the story and made it her own in a terrific way. I loved the personal strength of Ani and how, as the story progresses, you watch her grow into a very independent character. Geric is a likeable character as well, as are the other people in the story who befriend Ani. The tale has much more depth and complexity than the original tale, and I really appreciate the creativity and imagination that went behind this novel, particularly in the areas where magic is involved. The idea behind people-, animal-, and nature-speaking is brilliant, and really brings life to this tale.
Shannon Hale is not only creative about her stories, she’s also very talented at putting pen to paper. Sure the plot was predictable, but she described everything so well that I was able to picture the events and scenes vividly in my head, in full Technicolor with surround sound. She has a way with words that makes you want to continue reading, even though you have an idea of what will happen next.
Likeable characters, a well-paced and complex plot, a creative background in magic and culture, topped with good writing, all of these elements have combined together in The Goose Girl to make for an excellent story. I don’t know why I hesitate to declare this a favorite (maybe the predictability of the plot, or the fact that I didn’t burst into tears at any point in the story), but this book deserves to be bought and given a home on my shelf. In previous reviews, I mentioned that I only give this honor to books that I want to re-read, or to stories that I hope my children will read one day, and this book fulfills both requirements. I highly recommend this read for anyone who loves fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, ages 13 and up.
One more thing: I strongly recommend you listen to the audio version. I listened to a full-cast narration, complete with music, and I loved it. It made the commute to and from work an entertaining experience, so much so that I kept looking for an excuse to drive in my car for a little while. It made the chores I had to do around the house more enjoyable as well, so try the audio rather printed form of this book. Trust me, you won’t regret it!


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