The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale
The Books of Bayern, Book 1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens in 2005
This is a fantastic, but heartbreaking middle grade fantasy novel about a young princess. Princess Anidora grows up on her aunt’s stories about the language of the animals around her. She longs to spend her days conversing with the birds and swans that live in the palace pond, but when her mother finds out she forbids Ani from going near them again.
As years pass, Ani continues to long for the companionship for her aunt and animals, growing self-conscious and tongue-tied around other people. Soon, even the most trivial of conversations becomes enough to induce a panic– not a very good quality in a future queen. Still, she has one true friend, a white horse named Falada.
Not long after her birthday, Ani is sent away to a neighboring kingdom as part of an arranged marriage, but on the road to her new home, she’s attacked and separated from Falada. Alone and afraid in the woods, she makes her way to the capital and takes a job tending the king’s geese, making some new friends along the way.
I don’t want to give away much more about the plot (though I guess the Goodreads description gives away some more if you’re into spoilers), but basically: The Goose Girl is a beautifully written tale about a girl gaining confidence in herself and her own abilities, mixed with some wonderful fairy tale elements.
While Ani is working as the goose girl she tells stories to the other children she works with; in The Goose Girl I felt as if I were listening to one of her stories myself. At times it felt like I was living it along with her.
I couldn’t stop reading this book, and made it a personal quest to get the next copy in the series, Enna Burning, despite the fact that all the Barnes & Nobles near me at the time were out of stock. I finally got a copy from my favorite bookstore, The Strand, so that’s a win!
I highly recommend this book to YA and middle grade fantasy lovers, or anyone looking for a cute, happily-ever-after story to cheer up even the darkest of hours.
Kudos to Samanatha @ Fabulous Fabris for yet another awesome book recommendation!