Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: The Goose Girl

Title: The Goose Girl

Author: Shannon Hale

Author's web site:

Date: 2003

Publisher:  Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1-58234-990-9

Length: 383 pages of text, plus an interview and discussion section

Quote: “There are three kinds, three gifts…people-speaking…animal-speaking…and…nature-speaking.”

The original Grimm fairy tale about “The Goose Girl” is one of the hardest to love in their whole collection. All that violence, and that squick about the horse’s dead head endlessly repeating a message of useless commiseration. Anybody can adapt “Hansel and Gretel” to suit modern tastes, arguably even “Red Shoes,” but it took Shannon Hale even to want to modernize “The Goose Girl.”

And she did a bang-up job with it. Hale’s Princess Ani believes in the magic of “animal-speaking and nature-speaking,” but how real that magic is, even in her fictional world, is debatable. What saves Ani, or what she uses to save herself, is people-speaking. Ani is a quiet, respectful child who doesn’t use a “gift of people-speaking” to manipulate people, so at first she’s pushed aside by the jealous serving wench Selia. Ani does, however, listen to, talk with, and work with people, so in due course she’s able to muster an army and overthrow Selia.

If you enjoy the genre of old fairy tales reworked into relatively believable novels, with subplots and minor characters and all, you will love The Goose Girl. Even as my outer grownup says it’s a silly genre, my inner child loves it. Evidently a lot of people agree because this book has generated a trilogy.

Although I'd encourage anyone who likes this sort of thing to get the whole trilogy, new, The Goose Girl is available as a Fair Trade Book by now. As usual: $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment.