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Shannon Hale

shannon hale book reviews(1974- )
New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and dozens of rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. She has published seventeen books for young readers including the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and its two sequels, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, superhero YA novel Dangerous, and the first four Ever After High books. Her novels for the adult crowd include Austenland (now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell) and Midnight in Austenland. Shannon and her husband Dean Hale have collaborated on several projects such as Eisner-nominee Rapunzel’s Revenge and early chapter book series The Princess in Black. They spend non-writing hours corralling their four young children near Salt Lake City, Utah. Read excerpts and “deleted scenes” at Shannon Hale’s website.

The Bayern Books

The Bayern Books — (2003-2009) Young adult. Publisher: She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada. From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

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The Goose Girl: Sweet and irresistible

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The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

As the oldest child of the King and Queen, Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee (Ani) is being groomed for the throne of Kildenree. Much to her mother’s disappointment, though, Ani doesn’t seem to be leadership material. She doesn’t have the ability to persuade and motivate people like her mother does and, oddly, she seems to communicate better with animals than people.

Nonetheless, Ani is shocked when her mother declares her little brother to be heir and sends Ani off as a bride to the prince of Bayern, an aggressive neighboring kingdom. She feels betrayed by her family and things only get worse when she encounters more deceit and betrayal on the way to Bayern. Because she has a difficult time standing up for herself, Princess Ani is soon usurped and tending geese instead of taking her rightful place beside the Prince of Bayern. But this go... Read More

Enna Burning: Rather disturbing for a children’s story

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Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna Burning is one of Shannon Hale’s BAYERN books — a set of four “companion” books set in the fictional country of Bayern. Each book can stand alone, but they have overlapping characters. I was glad I had read The Goose Girl, the first BAYERN book, before reading Enna Burning because I was already familiar with the world and its inhabitants.

Readers who’ve read The Goose Girl will remember Enna, best friend of Princess Isi. In Enna Burning, Enna acquires the power of fire starting. This dark power is seductive and though Enna hopes to use it to save her country from an aggressive neighbor, she struggles to keep from being pulled to the dark side. She deals with secrets, guilt, and jealousy, learns how lies can ruin relationships, and discovers that the path to destruction is a... Read More

River Secrets: Razo gets center stage

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River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale writes excellent children’s fantasy. River Secrets is the third book in her BAYERN series. It follows The Goose Girl and Enna Burning and focuses on one of readers’ (and the author’s) favorite characters from these books, Razo of the forest.

In the previous books, Razo’s friend Isi, who has wind magic, became queen of Bayern and his friend Enna, who has fire magic, helped Bayern win a battle with Tira. Now Bayern and Tira are swapping ambassadors and opening diplomatic relations. The people of Bayern are not popular in Tira because of what Enna, the fire mage, did to their army. Enna isn’t happy about her role in the battle, either, so she asks to go to Tira with the ambassador, hoping to redeem herself by doing something constructive instead... Read More

Forest Born: A good choice for girls who struggle with confidence

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Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Everyone thinks of Rin as her mother’s shadow. She belongs to a large extended family that all live near each other in the forest and, until recently, Rin has always been her hard-working mother’s helper. She cooks, cleans, fetches the water, helps take care of all the kids, etc. When she needs a little peace, she communes with the trees of the forest. She doesn’t really “speak” with them, but just feels their love and the constant harmony they provide.

But then Rin did something bad and the trees have withdrawn their love. She feels their disappointment and disgust with her. Now Rin feels unworthy and unloved and begins to sink into depression. In an attempt to help, her big brother Razo invites her to join him and his new wife at the Bayern court. There she meets Queen Isi and admires her strength and confidence. As Rin tries to find her place at c... Read More

Princess Academy

Princess Academy — (2005-2012) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.

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Princess Academy: Deserves its Newbery Honor

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Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

The people who live on Mount Eskel mine linder, the marble-like substance that’s highly prized by those who live in the lowlands. Even though they’ve always supplied the linder for the King’s palace and other important buildings, the mountain folk have their own culture and know very little about what happens beneath their mountain. Therefore, they’re just as surprised as the lowlanders are when the priests ordain that the prince’s bride will come from Mount Eskel. Since the mountain girls are uneducated, a temporary school will be established so they can be brought up to snuff before they meet the prince.

Miri’s father has never let her work in the quarry with her peers, so Miri has always assumed that her father thought she was too small and, therefore, useless. But after her initial shock at the harsh treatment she receives from the headmis... Read More

Palace of Stone: Not your typical princess tale

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Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone is a sequel to Shannon Hale’s excellent Newbery Honor-winning Middle Grade novel Princess Academy. You’ll definitely want to read Princess Academy first, and to avoid spoilers, you should read it before you read this review. So, if you haven’t read Princess Academy yet, go away and read it now. (Then come back, please.)

In Princess Academy, we met the poor hard-working uneducated families of Mount Eskel who survive by mining and carving linder, a valuable type of stone that they export to lowlanders. Their culture was changed when it was determined by lowlander priests that the next princess should come from Mount Eskel. To get the ... Read More

The Forgotten Sisters: A wonderful story for girls AND BOYS

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

I just adore Shannon Hale’s PRINCESS ACADEMY books for young readers. The Forgotten Sisters, released earlier this week, is the third and final installment. This review will contain spoilers for the previous books.

In book one, Princess Academy, the first school was built in Mount Eskel, an uneducated rural mining community. The purpose of the school was to educate marriageable young ladies so that the prince of their realm could choose a fitting bride. One of the potential princess wannabees, Miri, wasn’t chosen to be princess, but she learned subjects and skills that she used to better Mount Eskel’s economic situation. In the second book, Palace of Stone, Miri goes to the capital city for more education and ends up que... Read More

Ever After High

Ever After High — (2013-2014) Publisher: At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life. As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future. What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

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Find the Ever After High short stories here (most are free on Kindle).

The Storybook of Legends: I got sucked into Matel’s merchandising scheme

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Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

Okay, call me clueless, but I when I picked up Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends I had no idea it was a tie-in to a line of popular dolls, diaries and YouTube Webisodes produced by Mattel. All I knew was that it was a children’s story written by Shannon Hale and I happen to really like Shannon Hale’s children’s stories. I soon found out the truth and was disgruntled that I was sucked into Mattel’s merchandising scheme, but I must admit that Mattel made a brilliant move by asking a Newber... Read More

The Unfairest of Them All: Cute and clever

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The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale

The Unfairest of Them All is the second book in Shannon Hale’s EVER AFTER HIGH series for children. These are tie-in novels for Matel’s line of EVER AFTER HIGH dolls, clothing, diaries, and sundry accessories. I feel like a real chump for obliviously falling into Matel’s greedy little trap, but I love Shannon Hale’s children’s books, so.... so THERE.

The first book in the series (The Storybook of Legends) was sweet and charming, so I went in to this one knowing exactly what I was doing and I found it just as original and adorable as the first one. In The Unfairest of Them All, Raven Queen, daughter of the evil queen, refuses to sign The Storybook of Legends, a contract that would require her to carry on in her mother’s evil ... Read More

A Wonderlandiful World: A great series for preteen girls

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A Wonderlandiful World by Shannon Hale

In A Wonderlandiful World, Shannon Hale’s story about the teenage children of famous fairytale characters shifts focus from the conflict between the Royals and the Rebels about their “happily ever after” destiny to the problems caused by one of the students’ previous misadventures. They had accidentally let the Jabberwock (from Wonderland) loose into their world. The Jabberwock is not happy about not being in Wonderland anymore, so he’s making life miserable for the students and faculty of Ever After High by making all the magic go wrong. Some of the students are turning into objects. The breakfast porridge is demanding hugs. Even the narrator goes all squonky and Maddie has to take over for her.

Three characters set out to fix the trouble and restore order (if you can call it order): Lizzie Heart (daughter of Won... Read More

More books by Shannon Hale

shannon hale book of a thousand days reviewBook of a Thousand Days — (2007) Young adult. Publisher: When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. With the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors — one welcome, the other decidedly less so — the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows. With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this little-known classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset in a land inspired by the Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.


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