Currently Reading: The Goose Girl
"You're not likely to, either. He's a naughty bird. They all are."
"Oh, but I like my geese. Like cats, they can't be told what to do, and like dogs, they're loyal, and like people, they talk every chance they get."
Author: Shannon Hale
Synopsis: Princess Anidori-Kiladra of Kildenree, thought of no use in her own country, is forced into an arranged marriage with the prince of Bayern. As she travels to meet her prince, her lady-in-waiting, Selia, mutinies with the help of nearly all her guard, and Ani has to flee for her life. With the aid of a Forest family, she makes her way into Bayern, disguises herself, and goes to work tending the king's geese.
Selia has successfully installed herself in the palace as the prince's fiancée, put a watch out for someone of Ani's description, and begun to provoke war between the two countries. As Bayern prepares to attack the peaceful Kildenreans and the wedding approaches, Ani has nothing with which to stop Selia but her golden Kildenrean hair, her ability to speak to the wind, her newfound friends, and the truth. But then, with a little hard work, those just might be enough.
Notes: I read the Grimms' tale this book is based on a long time ago, and probably should have read it again for familiarity, but the key points I remember were there. I love a good fairy tale retelling, and have looked forward to this one for a long time.
Shannon Hale's worlds and people consistently come alive for me. The wind-speaking, the horse speech and various bird languages, especially that of the geese, came off as wholly believable and interesting. And I loved Ani. It made me happy to watch her come to life as she lived among the poor and worked for her truth and her country. Of course, I knew the ending of the story—I've read two sequels. But that didn't stop me from getting caught up in the suspense of her tale.
The romance proved mostly (intentionally) humorous, especially compared to the sweet, slower-built love that Hale heroines Miri and Enna get. On the other hand, Shannon Hale can write some good funny stuff, and the friendships and the character progression are far more important to the story. Getting the history of Ani's friendship with Enna and Razo was one of my favorite things about the book.
Now I just have to read Forest Born, and I'll have gotten through all of Ms. Hale's young adult novels. Wait. Dang it. Hey, Shannon, now that your twins are born, want to write some more books???
Recommendation: Yes. And if you want to make the experience perfect, have some chocolate chip cookies while you read.