The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale
Today is a bit of a Throwback Thursday! I’m in the middle of my next book, but not reading as fast as I thought, so I decided to write about a few of my summer books. This summer, I picked up The Goose Girl again. I had read it as a teenager, remembered loving it, but couldn’t remember anything about it (a common theme and one of my main reasons to start this blog!). Well, some tastes don’t change–I loved this book. Shannon Hale is an incredible author. I really enjoyed her writing style and her plot. As soon as I finished, I found out that she had three other books in the series “The Books of Bayern,” and promptly devoured the other three all in a row. I’ll give a little synopsis of the four books (there will be a few spoilers) and then what I thought . . .spoiler: they were all amazing and all impossible to put down!
The Goose Girl
Hale wrote her take on the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale for this book. A young princess, named Ani, is betrayed by her lady-in-waiting and becomes a goose girl before she can become a queen. Along the way, she makes many friends, struggles against her enemies, and learns she has the gift of animal-speaking (but only a little) and nature-speaking (with the wind). There are many plot twists, especially as the book goes along, and they took me completely by surprise! SPOILER: Ani’s friend, Geric, is really the prince and cleverly helps reveal the main enemy, Ani’s former lady-in-waiting, Selia. Ani and Geric get married and allow the forest born to become part of the King’s Own, uniting the kingdom of Bayern.
One of the friends Ani makes while she is a goose girl is Enna, a girl who cares for the palace’s chickens. She leaves the palace after Ani becomes queen to care for her ill mother, who dies, leaving Enna and her brother alone. Her brother starts acting mysteriously with fire and Enna learns that he has nature-speaking (with fire). Later, Enna discovers that she has the same gift. Meanwhile, the neighboring land of Tira is plotting to invade Bayern and Enna must use her gift to save the kingdom. SPOILER: Enna gets captured and wooed by a people-speaking captain of Tira’s army, who tries to learn her gift so he can defeat Bayern. Finn, another friend of Ani’s, becomes a strong, determined young man, who cares for Enna and helps keep her safe. Enna and Ani learn that their gifts come with a dangerous side and find out that they can teach each other their gifts to balance each other out. This saves Enna from death and allows Ani to welcome a baby boy into the world. They form a bond and use their gifts together to help Bayern.
In River Secrets Razo is the main character. Razo is yet another friend of Ani’s from the first book. He proves himself with Finn in the second book and becomes one of the King’s Own. He travels to Tira to help keep the shaky peace that was instated in the second book. He befriends both servants and the king while trying to solve the mysterious appearance of burned bodies being found around Tira. Is it really Bayern burning or someone framing the kingdom? Along the way, Razo meets a young woman, named Dasha, who has the water-speaking gift, and in the end solves the mystery and helps save Bayern.
Rin is Razo’s brother, born and raised in the forest and at home there until one day she does something awful and no longer feels at home with her family or the forest. She journeys with Razo to the palace where she becomes a lady-in-waiting to Ani and helps care for Ani and Geric’s son, Tusken. At this point, Kel (another neighboring country) is threatening war, and the Fire Sisters; Ani, Enna, and Dasha, are determined to keep peace. Rin journeys with Finn, Razo, and Tusken to Kel where she learns that her “curse” is actually a gift, and is able to grow in self-confidence and come to terms with her gift. SPOILER: Rin has people-speaking and learns about this when she and the Fire Sisters find out that Selia is leading the coup in Kel. She learns to use her gift to help, instead of control, other people. She also has the nature-speaking gift with trees, which gives her balance in her speaking. She helps defeat Selia and renew peace between Kel and Bayern. Finn and Enna finally get married and Razo and Dasha are soon to follow!
Obviously, I LOVED these books. Hale has the ability to transport you to the heart of her story and keep you there until the last page. As a result, it is near impossible to put her books down. I really appreciated her creative genius in the magic of her books. I love the dynamics of the “speaking” languages; how they can overpower or be kept in control, and how they can be used for good or for evil. There are many parallels to real life in her story, like with the gifts, but also with the individuals. In each book, the characters grown in self-confidence, kindness, strength, and resolve. I think this makes the books believable, even though they are fantasy books. I can’t say enough good things about “The Books of Bayern!”
Summing it up: I loved all four books and I would definitely recommend them all!!
All the best, Abbey