REVIEW: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

35. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (December 1, 2008), ebook, 400pp / ISBN 1582349908
Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: Buy it
Read: April 9, 2011

Source: Bought

Summary from Amazon:

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.


This is my fourth attempt at writing this review, and while probably won’t be perfect I have to get something out so I can stop obsessing about it. This book? The Goose Girl? Is magnificent. It’s got everything I like in a book: characters with fully developed personalities and lives, character growth and development, excellent writing, a bit of romance, princesses who kick butt (although not physically in this book), intrigue, betrayal, and snarky geese.

I like revisionings of old fairy tales, not only because I think old fairy tales are boring and sexist and racist and etc., but also because I like the way that authors take those original stories and twist them into something that modern readers can appreciate. The original Goose Girl story is seriously boring, with the standard crap characters and questionable motives for everything. The remade Goose Girl story is fabulous, with– well, everything I said it had above. It takes the basic original story and give flesh and life to what before was really bare bones stuff. It makes everything so much more vibrant and fun to read but still retains that air of magic that all the best fairy tales have. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

This is my first Shannon Hale book and I can’t wait to read another. I love her writing, and I love her characters, and I’m definitely going to continue reading this series. I really want to know what happens to the secondary characters, and to Ani and her romantic whatsit! Also, I’m kind of wondering if something’s going to happen to Ani now that her magical secret is out– the need to keep quiet about her ability to talk to animals (and control the wind?) was made into this big deal in the beginning of the book, and then nothing happened once it was revealed to everyone. Is there going to be a backlash or what?

I look forward to finding out!


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Other reviews:
Bookfoolery and Babble: “Gorgeous, lyrical writing with magical touches that feel as if they lie within the realm of possibility, a very likable heroine with tremendous challenges to overcome, fantastic plot and imaginative world-building make The Goose Girl a truly unique and wondrous book.”

Fyrefly’s Book Blog: “It did a very nice job of turning all of the characters, particularly Ani, into multi-dimensional people. At the same time, however, I feel like some elements (the wind-speaking in particular) that were retained because they were part of the original story were given too much time and space in this telling without adding much to the plot.”

The Bluestocking Society: “I was swept along with Ani/Isi (the goose girl) and her tale of becoming a princess by being a commoner. The character development was a little spotty with regard to most of the other characters, as with most fairy tales, but the development of Ani was amazing. I felt her uncertainty and longing and the building of her character and sense of self.”

things mean a lot: “Another of the book’s strongest points is how perfectly Shannon Hale recreated the voice of a fairy tale. One could say, of course, that finding the right voice for the story is always important, but I find that in fairy tales in particular, if the voice is not right the whole thing falls apart. This certainly does not happen in this case. Shannon Hale’s use of language is not excessively flowery, but it’s also not wholly unadorned, and the tone is evocative of a timelessness that is perfect for this tale.”

A Striped Armchair: “The Goose Girl never challenged me: Ani did all of the things she was supposed to, and all of the other characters behaved perfectly consistently with their good or bad labels (there are two exceptions: Conrad, the goose boy and a relatively minor one, and Ani’s aunt in the beginning, whom I loved and kept wishing would pop up again with her ambiguity, but she never did). It somehow didn’t capture the je ne sais quo (yes, I realise how pretentious that sounds, but I couldn’t think of an English alternative) about fairy tales that gives you goosebumps and makes you look at forests a bit more suspiciously. Instead, this was entertaining fluff, and while I appreciate fluff, I wouldn’t rush out and tell anyone that they had to read it right away.”

More reviews.

9 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale”

  1. I’ve been wanting to love Shannon Hale for several years now but somehow haven’t picked up her books yet. I am actually rather fond of The Goose Girl in its original form, and fairy tales generally, in spite of their objectionable aspects. I like fairy tale retellings because I like seeing them echo the originals.

    1. Yeah, I tend to like the idea of fairy stories more than the actual tales themselves. Like, the idea of the goose girl is interesting, but I need more emotion/character development/actual motivations for why a character would do something/etc in order to fully enjoy the story. Unless I’m reading the story for something other than just enjoyment– I can totally get into a Grimm tale if I’m reading it for analysis of some aspect of it and not just for fun.

  2. Strongly strongly encourage you to read her other books! They’re not all fairytale re-tellings, but she tells her stories in a very poetic way reminiscent of fairytales. My favorite is still Book of a Thousand Days!

  3. Yay! I’m so glad that you loved this book. Whilst I’ve loved or seriously liked everything I’ve read by Shannon Hale (who is also awesome in person), Princess Academy is my next favorite. Thanks for the link!

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