Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) - Shannon Hale


Goodreads:  Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

First Line:  She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kilden ree, and she did not open her eyes for three days.


I never believed such a short story would hit me so hard!  This story was...oh it was painfully beautiful to read.  Not particularly how it was written - don't get me wrong, I love Shannon Hale, but it wasn't the prose that I'm talking about.  It was the story.  I don't really know how to explain what I mean.  I got sucked into this story in a matter of pages - sucked in so deeply that I could feel my heart racing, something that usually only happens at particularly dramatic parts of a story I absolutely love (for example, when Darcy confesses to Lizzie).  The whole book felt that way.  Shannon Hale is an expert story teller.  Some authors are great for action, others for their beautiful prose, or their world building.  Some have lively characters, some have heart-wrenching plots.  Shannon Hale is a story teller.  I don't have any other way to describe it.

I absolutely loved what Hale did with this story.  The Goose Girl is one of my favourite fairy tales.  I'd always wondered the plausibility of the servant girl tricking everyone.  I mean...I guess it wasn't that I didn't believe she could trick everyone, I just never understood how the details of this event would go down.  Hale explains everything!  And she makes it so much more real.  I mean, as often happens with fairy tales, the servant and the princess don't even have names in the original!  Hale not only fleshes out the story behind everything, but our characters are really brought to life, particularly Ani who I absolutely LOVED.  It gives everything in the story more impact - there is a particularly heart wrenching scene...I can't say anything because of spoilers, but she did something I didn't believe was going to happen (I don't know why...I mean it's been years since I read the fairy tale, but it's a fairly essential part of the original plot).  Also the fairy tale the horse is given a name, as is the goose boy, despite the fact that the servant girl is the antagonist and the princess is the protagonist.   I mean I know this is common with fairy tales, but it seems odd to me and maybe sexist?  I haven't decided if that's what I think it is.  In any case it has no bearing on this story since Ani's name is ridiculously long haha

My only complaint about this book?  I would have loved it was longer.   I loved that it was not romantic centric, choosing instead to focus on Ani and her confidence as a person and ruler, as well as her trust issues with friends, and her magic.  But I would have loved more time spent with the love interest, showing them falling in love, instead of it happening in a short time period in a fairly quiet way.  I don't have any issues with the quiet, it was more that you don't get more than a couple chapters (if that) with them.  It doesn't make the romance unbelievable - it doesn't feel like an instalove sort of situation, I just simply wanted more romance for me to swoon over!  I wouldn't change a single thing other than that.

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely.  I think it is a great read for preteens as well as teens (although there may not be enough swooning for teens who love their romance in books).  Light fantasy readers, and of course fairy tale obsessors like me will also really enjoy this book!

Bechdel Test: 

A day in early summer when Ani was five, the two companions sat in an aspen's dappled shade on the edge of the garden swan pond.  Ani loved the birds that were as big as she and begged them to eat bread out of her hands.  When the bread was all gone, they shrugged their wings and shronked at her.
"What did they say?
"They wanted to know," said the aunt, "Was there more bread for the eating or should they go back to the pond."
Ani look  at the nearest swan straight in one eye.  "No more bread.  You may go."
The swan shrugged his wings again.
"What does that mean?"
"I don't think he speakd your language, duckling."  The aunt turned her profile and one eye to the swan and made a sound like the swan spoke, not quite a honk and almost a whine.  The swan padded back to the pond.

This is a conversation between a young Ani and her aunt. Luckily there are all sorts of conversations like this throughout the book since Ani is usually with a good mix of guys and girls.  It's a nice change, and the book isn't focused on the guys so much as her reclaiming her birthright and dealing with her fears at being caught speaking to animals.


  1. Nice review! I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. Glad to see a review of it!

  2. Have you read any of Shannon Hale's books before? She's well worth checking out!

  3. I've read The Princess Academy, which I really liked. I need to read the sequel. So many books....sigh.

  4. Ahhh a Hitchhiker's AND Doctor Who fan! Excellent :) Also I had no idea Adams wrote for the classic series! It makes SO much sense. Although I haven't seen the classic episodes...honestly I'm not sure I could get through them haha

  5. You know I only realized like this year that those were written by her! I know what you TBR is like..I want to read that! But..but I want to read that too..I want to read all the things!!

  6. I've watched a few Classic episodes. They are kind of hard to get through. I'm doing it most for appreciation of the current show. I'd love to really get hooked on the classic series. I'd feel more like an authentic fan.

  7. I know right? I'm torn because I feel like I can't go on about how much I love Doctor who because I'm only talking about the recent episodes! Maybe I'll make the classics a reed making tv show (I play oboe and I have to make my own reeds and generally watch tv while doing so to sum up quickly what that is)

  8. Thanks for commenting on my Manga Mondays post a few weeks ago. Sorry it's taken me so long to comment back. I love that you do the Bechdel test on book reviews. That's so cool. And I love your blog name. Until last week I wouldn't have understood it. I just finished Hitchhiker's Guide and I loved it. It's like reading an episode of Doctor Who, which makes sense since Adams wrote for the classic series.


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