Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub Date: 2003 Bloomsbury USA
Source: Received as a gift
Synopsis (from the back cover)
Some people are born with the first word of a language resting on their tongue, though it may take some time before they can taste it.
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, 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 the 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 queen of a foreign land...
My Thoughts (slightly spoiler-y, sorry!)
I really should thank the person who told me I ought to give the Books of Bayern a go -- if only I could remember who that was! Somehow, from one of my reviews, they figured out my reading preferences to the letter. Yes, The Goose Girl was most definitely right up my reading alley. I have always enjoyed Young Adult Fantasy books -- ever since I was actually a "young adult" myself, in fact. My YA self would most definitely have enjoyed Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern. I can't say that the synopsis on the cover would have intrigued me enough to read The Goose Girl, so I really should say there is so much more to the story than it implies... Adventure, intrigue, disguises, a touch of magic -- you will find all that and more when you enter Hale's world of Bayern.
Hale has created a very likeable heroine in Ani, Crown Princess of Kildenree. She is far from a perfect beauty who can do no wrong -- she is, in fact, very self-conscious and perhaps over-aware of her flaws, but has a strong desire to overcome them. I mentioned intrigue -- well, it doesn't take long for it to begin once Ani's mother sends her away to marry the Crown Prince of Bayern. I knew what would happen long before Ani figured it out and oh, it makes for a delicious read! You cannot help but pull for the truth to be heard, for right to overcome, and for the intrigue to be revealed for what it is and oh yes, the conclusion is quite satisfying!
In my opinion, a good book requires a strong cast of characters of various shapes and sizes, so to speak. Hale has certainly given us that in The Goose Girl. Ani, herself, begins the story as an unsure--almost weak--Crown Princess, but discovers her true capability when forced to become a Goose Girl in Bayern and fight to regain her rightful place in life. Her lady-in-waiting, Selia, is another type of creature all together, as you will see. I wish we saw a little more of the Crown Prince of Bayern, but then the story wouldn't have gone the way it did, as you will see upon reading it. Of course, there are others without whom the story wouldn't be complete: the band of Forest-born workers in Bayern, Ani's loyal (and not-so-loyal) guard, to name a few.
Bottom line, if you enjoy YA fantasy and adventure, I think you would enjoy The Goose Girl. It is an easy, yet captivating read -- Hale's lyrical writing is sure to enthrall you from the first few pages.