Friday, June 21, 2013

Not So Grimm

If you enjoyed Ella Enchanted (the book), I'm preeeeetty confident you'll like The Goose Girl -- both reinvent Grimm's tales with a prowess that goes far beyond retelling.   I would put The Goose Girl a notch above Ella though...which is saying something, because Ella is wonderfun (for me, the characters felt more real in TGG).

But as you'll see, this review isn't for one, but four connected books...four books I think are a good match for Kristen Cashore fans!  They have a similar flavour and quality to them, although they are a little more predictable, and a little less racey...not that Cashore's that racey.  Both series' consist of beautifully-written, epic-feeling stories, centred on different characters for each book (and Hale's protagonists aren't all female!). 
The Goose Girl
  • I was immediately seized upon by the gorgeous similes and metaphors that colour Hale's writing.
  • The characters are very strong, and the heroine of the novel is the kind I want for my girls (I thrill at the thought of them reading this book!)
  • The book is super clean.
  • There is substance and weight to the problems the characters face.
  • It reads like a classic.  Although story elements are often foreseen, they are delivered with a rich and delicious magic.  I pair "classic" and "predictable" here, because in the case of fairytales, things like finding yes, good triumphs over evil, is kind of desirable, isn't it?
  • I felt so satisfied, having read this. 
Enna Burning
  • Many people find this tops The Goose Girl -- you may too.  It is absolutely still excellent.  I think I connected a little better with Isi, of TGG, than Enna, is all.  In retrospect (having read all four books), I'm surprised by that, and wonder if I started over at the beginning how they'd all compare -- since I now feel I know all of the characters better and from different perspectives, I doubt I could pick favourites so easily.
  • The opposition was less compelling somehow -- I think largely because the evil forces of Book 1 are indisputably the enemy, whereas in Book 2, I could see myself just as easily empathising with people in the "enemy camp." 
  • The villian is strong, but again, trumped by Book 1's, in my mind.
River Secrets
  • All of the books feature some humour, but having Razo as hero added comedy to Book 3.  I also "got" Razo more than I understood Enna. 
  • The political elements of the story added intrigue instead of yawns.
  • The "extras" in Book 3 are so wonderful.  (I'm talking about the prince and Talone.  The prince is so. darn. funny.)
  • Even when I predicted things I don't think Hale hoped I would, confirmation of suspicions was savoured upon delivery.
  • Book 1's villain = still the best.
  • Excellent again though, and heightened by the history of Book 1 and 2.

Forest Born
  • At the start I wasn't sure I could care for the heroine, Rin.  I was surprised to find her inner turmoil more fascinating than Enna's.
  • Seeing the characters I knew from Books 1-3 through her eyes was so good (including her observations of their relationships). 
  • Again, anything foreseen wasn't spoiled, the journey was too good for that.
  • It's a thing of beauty when the heroes and heroines of the first three books come together.  This book serves as an overarching climax for the entire series.  Loved. it.
  • And the introduction of thrilling ill forces certainly helped. 
Here are some character-focussed illustrations for the same four:

And another set I think is gorgeous:
If you haven't read these, which covers are most appealing to you?
And if you have read them, which do you think are the best fit?

(I like the first set the most, but suspect a teenage girl might find allure in the second...? )
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