The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1) – Shannon Hale
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee was the crown princess of Kildenree, a small kingdom surrounded by mountains and forests that protect it from would-be invaders. When she is traded in marriage to a prince she’s never met in a country she’s never been to, Ani sets off on a perilous journey to save not only herself but also this new kingdom she must call home.
I picked this book up years ago when I was on a fairytale retellings kick. It’s originally based on the Grimm’s Fairytale of the same name, but Shannon Hale flies the narrative in an entirely new direction. This book blew me away the first time I read it as an 11 or 12-year-old, and it continues to be magical today.
Essentially, Ani has her identity stolen and has to take a job as a goose girl in order to survive. The girl who steals her identity still scares me as an almost 25-year-old, because her drive, fury, and wiliness are at an all-time high simply because she believes that she deserves what Ani has. This is a very real thing that some people experience. Some people in the real world can actually be that insane. There’s no logical arguing with a person like that. It’s just downright terrifying.
Aside from crazy pants the identity thief, this book is chock full of well developed, complicated, intricate characters. The writing is superb, and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this book alone made Shannon Hale one of my all-time favorite authors. I find it rare in juvenile and teen fiction for characters to be in as much danger as those in The Goose Girl without having an obvious way out. Usually, the reader knows the identity of the would-be rescuer before the characters do, but in this case, that idea is false.
There isn’t much detail I can go into without ruining parts of the story, so I will just leave you with my word that it’s very very very good and totally worth it to drop what you’re doing and read this. The minimal romance means that it can appeal to just about everyone who likes a good adventure.
Curio Street Reads Rating: 5 Stars