by Intisar Khanani.
Princess Alyrra does not have a charmed life. Abused by her family and ignored by the court, her only solace is in her friendships with the servants, and the mysterious Wind that talks to her. When her mother announces she’s to be married off to a neighboring prince, she’s filled with dread. Everything familiar will be gone, she doesn’t know the language of her new country and for all she knows the prince will be just as cruel as her family. When a spell is cast on her during the journey that steals her identity, she is thrilled to be able to start a new life of her own choosing, away from royal politics. She happily accepts a job as a lowly goose girl, and tries to forget her former life. But of course it’s not that simple. The prince is not what she expected, the woman who has assumed her identity is a monster, and building a life in her new country means she comes to care about what happens to it. She has to choose between living in peaceful anonymity or fighting for her rightful place where she can do some good.
This was a pleasant surprise. It’s a fairy tale retelling, but the tale it is based off of (The Goose Girl) was not one I was familiar with beforehand, so it read as something completely new for me. And I liked it! I definitely still got the flavor of a fairy tale, but didn’t have any expectations of how the story should go, and could just enjoy it. It’s got familiar fairy tale tropes, but also an edge of realism in the daily details and interactions. I was not surprised by the ending, but that didn’t detract from enjoying the story to get to it. It’s got some funny moments, and a heartbreaking one. The romance, while present, does not take center stage, which is refreshing in a YA-level read. Alyrra is relatable and likeable, and really draws one into the story. The part near the end with the source of the magic revealed and explored was not as compelling or convincing for me. But overall, I still really liked it.
If you are also a fan of fresh fairy tale retellings, give this a try.