Review: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern #1)
Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published December 1, 2008

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Goose Girl

She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste.

Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada.

From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

The Goose Girl on Goodreads

My Review

This book has been on my reading list for a really long time. I loved THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale, which I read years ago and was also based on a Grimm brothers fairytale. I’d heard of this book, too, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until I joined the Beat the Backlist reading challenge. One of the prompts is to read a fairy/folktale you haven’t heard of before. Though I knew about this book for a long time, it’s the only place I’ve heard the story of the Goose Girl mentioned, so I am counting it for the prompt.

I went into the book thinking it was going to be a middle grade book, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because of the cover? I actually think this one would make a great book for middle school readers who are not quite ready to transition to YA, but have largely aged out of middle grade books. There’s a teeny bit of romance, but it’s not the focus of the story. Largely, this is about a girl who is figuring out who she is and learning to have confidence in herself.

I really liked Ani’s character. She’s sweet and humble, and awkward, especially at the beginning. But when she becomes a goose girl and pretty much has to learn to get along with others and begins to form friendships and relationships, she discovers her courage, too.

She has a couple of good women mentors. First, her aunt, who teaches her to speak with birds. Then, a woman in the forest who helps her recover when she’s lost and malnourished. Later, her supervisor, a woman in the town where she works as a goose girl, helps her when she gets injured and needs help. Ani also makes good friends, and those relationships become super important as she faces down her past.


This was a sweet story with a few intense moments. Ani must hide from soldiers who intend to kill her. She sees a horse that’s been killed. She witnesses battles.

But most of the story focuses on her and how she uses her abilities to protect others and bring people together and listen to them. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I’m glad I can finally share my review.

The Goose Girl on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
A man stands threateningly over Ani and makes a suggestive comment. It scares her.

A girl tells of how the tradition of women going to war with their husbands began. At one point, they bare their chests to the men, reminding them of what’s at stake if they lose the war, namely that the women will become the property of the conquering army.

A man makes reference to the fact that the princess will share a bed with the prince when they are wed.

Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Ani has the ability to speak to some animals. Her aunt tells her there are those who have the ability to “people speak,” which allows them to convince others to do as they say and the ability to speak to elements of nature, such as the trees, fire, or wind.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. A man stands over Ani threateningly and makes a suggestive comment. Ani remembers fairytales about a mother’s blood saving her daughter in a moment of fear and doubt. She witnesses someone stabbed through the chest with a sword from behind.

Ani hears a horse has been killed and sees its dismembered leg, and later sees its head mounted like a trophy.

A man attacks Ani, chasing her and cutting her with a knife.

Battle scenes show fights with swords, javelins, and daggers. Some fatalities.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

  1. I read this a long time ago and loved it. Thanks for reminding me about reading it. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

    • Kasey says:

      Awww, yay! It was on my reading list for a LONG time, too. The Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge gets the credit for finally getting me to read it. 😀

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