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 goose girl is determined to get her name back.
Based on the Grimm fairytale “The Goose Girl,” this book is the first in a series of companion novels by Shannon Hale (The Bayern Books). Whether you’re familiar with the fairytale or not, you’ll be pretty sure how the story ends — it’s unlikely to surprise you. But perhaps what will surprise you is how exciting the story is anyway. It’s fast-paced, beautifully written, emotional, and satisfying. Even though I was often frustrated with Ani’s forbearance and lack of confidence, I was enchanted by her story anyway.
According to Amazon, The Goose Girl is marketed to children ages 9-12, but there is enough violence and murder (and even scary things that happen to animals) that I think it’s better suited for the YA crowd. I listened to, and enjoyed, the Full Cast Audio production and recommend this version. The Goose Girl is a sweet and irresistible story for teens, adults, and the bravest little girls and boys.