The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
I picked up The Goose Girl because it was on the list of 100 best YA novels that NPR recently put out. I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the second half, and think it deserved a place on the list. It was a textbook example of a genre that I generally enjoy: the fairy tale retelling. “The Goose Girl” is not a common fairy tale, not one that Disney has adapted or that I read in my childhood. It’s about a princess sent to wed a prince in a neighboring kingdom, whose lady-in-waiting takes her place and steals her identity, and the real princess is sent to care for the geese instead. There was a lot of intrigue and even violence in this retelling. From the author’s note, I learned that the original tale Hale read as a child had a heroine who was much more passive than this one; I’m glad she made those changes. The second half of the book, with its plots and counter-plots, was better than the first half, which was full of details of rustic life, as well as an infancy narrative that seemed kind of superfluous. The ending is satisfying and happy, if a bit predictable, as befits a fairy tale.