From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-A magical retelling of the Grimms's fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen. Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, is born with the ability to speak to animals, a gift that is nurtured by her aunt. When the king dies, the queen announces that Ani's younger brother, not the crown princess, will succeed her on the throne. Unbeknownst to anyone, the queen has promised Ani in marriage to the prince of neighboring Bayern. The devastated teen is sent with a retinue over the mountains to Bayem and is betrayed by Selia, her lady-in-waiting, and most of her guards during the journey. Ani escapes, takes the name "Isi," disguises her distinctive blonde hair, and becomes a tender of geese to survive until she can reveal her true identity and reclaim her crown from the imposter, Selia. Ani meets and falls in love with Geric, who is, conveniently, the prince she is to marry. She is able to convince him and the king of her identity, marry, become queen, and stop a war between the kingdoms. This retelling retains many similarities to the original tale, including the gruesome punishment for treason. Hale's retelling is a wonderfully rich one, full of eloquent description and lovely imagery, and with a complex plot, a large cast of characters, and a strong female protagonist. Fans of high fantasy will be delighted with this novel, the first in a planned trilogy, and impatiently await those to follow.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-10. She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale's likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm. Anne O'Malley
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