Monday, November 2, 2009

REVIEW: Goose Girl

Hale, S. (2003) The Goose Girl
383 pages – 158234843X

Thirty Second Summary: Princess Ani has been betrayed by her lady-in-waiting and is running for her life in a strange country. Forced to disguise herself as a peasant, and working as a goose herder for the king, Princess Ani must fight in secret to regain her title and her kingdom.

Poor Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee. It’s been a tough couple of days. First she finds out that her mother has been grooming her not to run their kingdom, as she’s always believed, but instead to be shipped off and married to an unknown prince in a far-off country. Then her maid, who she has been friends with since childhood, turns out to be a scheming betrayer bent on murdering Ani, stealing her identity and marrying the prince in her stead! And on top of that, her horse gets killed!! Throw in a couple stabbings, a saucy best friend, a wise and kindly mother-figure who lives in the woods, and the ability to communicate with the wind, and you’ve got the makings of a brilliant fairytale retelling.

There’s also romance – oh, pleeenty of romance. It’s a tribute to how fantastical the book is that I wasn’t screaming for all the Action And Stuff to get over so she could hook up with the prince already. (Yes, yes, of course she hooks up with the prince. It’s a fairytale, for goodness sake, not a tragedy!)

Hale has done a fantastic job reimagining a classic story. Well-known characters such as Falada the talking horse and Conrad the goose-boy fit right alongside new ones like Selia (the evil maid) and Geric (The love interest? I bet he’s the love interest!). The more bizarre elements of the original tale – Falada’s severed head chatting it up with Ani, her ability to coerce the wind into playing with Conrad’s hat – are handled in expert fashion, updated to fit smoothly in with the rest of the book.

Now, let’s be honest. I’m a huge sucker for fairy tales, and some of you… well, some of you might not be. You’ll have to trust me, though, when I tell you that you’ll enjoy Goose Girl regardless of your feelings about Happily Ever After. Just try to read the hardcover version. I’m not sure how I feel about the limpid blonde on the paperback.

Quotes of Note:

The queen gave Ani a mother’s adoring stare, and Ani returned it coldly. She was in no mood to pretend love between them. She had no more duty to these people save to leave them. (P. 44)

The man listened calmly to Yulan, then looked to Ani and waited for her to speak. In her truest Bayern accent she said, “They’ve a knife to my back.” (P. 230)

“War. That’s what killed the old king and his other sons some years ago. That’s what the lovely queen and I were trying to avoid, and look at it all come down on us like so many hunting falcons. Can’t stand war. Gets in the way of order and process and all the good things.” (P. 304)

“My lord,” said Selia, “it is a grave crime and thus a public castigation. To be placed naked in a barrel full of nails and dragged through the streets by four white horses, I believe.” (P. 344)

Tasty Rating: !!!!!

If you thought this was delicious, try:
Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl
Same “Goose Girl” story, braaaand new twist.


  1. I totally had a collection of fairy tales that had the shorter classic version in it. Flashback!!

  2. Aren't those flashbacks fun. I got one from a picturebook called Big Al. It's this book about a super ugly fish.



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