The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm really starting to love this author. Like the Princess Academy, it's a sweet story with adventure, honor, betrayal, a touch of magic, and a good ending. It's almost like the Princess Bride, only not satire. It's an earnest fairy tale, and it's done very well. I don't really know what else to say except that it's a lovely story.
Ani is a princess who runs into trouble. This is how she deals with it.
The only thing that worries me is that it's now billed as part of a series. I try to stay away from series because in my experience, they start out great, then each new book gets worse, but you read them anyway because you want to know what happens to the characters you love. I'll probably end up reading the others anyway.
One other thing I'll mention is that yes, it does have a little magic, and I know I'm pretty hard core when I say I don't like fantasy (because I don't). But it's ok in Shannon Hale's books because the limits of the magic are very well-defined. In this one, the setting is your generic fairy tale kingdom, and the magic is a type of communication, with people, animals, or nature. It's ok because 1) this is well-defined at the beginning of the book and 2) it's almost treated as an extension of existing communication. With people, it's simply a "way with words," the talent of persuasion. With animals, it's more an understanding and mimic of their sounds and gestures. With nature, it's purely magic, but by the time I encountered it in the book, I was on board anyway.