Author: Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA Fantasy (Retelling of The Goose Girl)
Release Date: 24th March 2020 (originally self-published in May 2012)
Purchase Link: Book Depository
A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
First and foremost, I hate that I didn’t read this book when I was in high school! This book deals a lot with the kind of decisions you could choose to make and how you have to be the one to make them. Early teens me could have really used that since I was so insecure within myself that it was easier to let others decide and then it just became a pattern that I’ve only just started to break out of.
I loved this retelling with every bit of my heart. Not going to lie, what I know of The Goose Girl isn’t much (I think I saw a Barbie adaptation of it once..m I was a sucker for Barbie… still am!). So for me, majority of what may be major plot points that others know, I didn’t and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. It makes my sort-of-first experience of The Goose Girl pretty great! I was going to Google (Wikipedia has the best plot summaries) the originale fairytale… or tale. Not very many happy endings when it comes to the true versions of the Grimm Fairytales.
I devoured this book in less than 24 hours. I think total time with breaks came to around 2-3 hours because I could not put this beauty down! It’s beautifully written and I loved pretty much every character! Except like 2 or 3. I especially loved Falada. He was the best and made me cry.
One of the best parts of the book was getting to see Alyrra/Thorn develop friendships with Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Rowan! This was among the best found family types and I loved it! I also adored seeing that we get to see the flaws of the characters and, despite these flaws, se fall in love with them. Or maybe even because of them. Kestrin was amazing and I think I may have a new book boyfriend after reading this.
I loved the character arcs and how, fundamentally, this story is about choice. So I naturally got a bit curious and did a bit of research as to what inspired this book. And I’m glad I did.
Intisar Khanani was writing this novel during the year of 9/11 and compassion (which plays heavily into this novel) is a great part of 9/11. I’ve seen and read a few horror stories of how anyone who was Sikh or Muslim or Hindu etc (I could go on) suffered abuse for something they did not do and I think for that to be dealt with properly ( not abusing someone who clearly had nothing to do with an attack and those who were just as horrified, if not more) a certain level of compassion and mercy and, heck, even forgiveness would be needed. Intisar manages to bring these issues to light beautifully in the book and I hope there’s more books in the future set in the world of Thorn because I’d love to see a few favourite characters again!
The ending was very open and I adored it! It doesn’t necessarily need a sequel but at the same time, if a sequel was written it can easily be introduced seamlessly to tackle pretty much anything. I have a few questions but the main plot has been resolved so I’m very happy!
The only reason I haven’t given this the remaining 0.5 stars is because I wanted to see a bit more of culture and maybe even traditions to shine through? Probably not making sense and it’s a small thing to complain about but it would make the places seem all the more real to talk about the types of food and how they maybe differed to Alyrra’s kingdom. Or even festivals that are celebrated.
Finally, I’d like to thank Hot Key Books (and especially Tina Mories!) for a copy of this ARC! I saw this on twitter a while ago and I’m so glad it was brought into the UK!