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Search tags: shannon-hale
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review 2018-03-15 18:06
Forest Born - Shannon Hale

The best character in the series comes at the end - Rinna adds fascinating struggles and a whole new power to the mix, but I may have reached the end of my capacity to marathon Hale's books, as I found this one a bit more of a struggle to get through. Alternately, that could be down to the structure; there's a lot of running around in the woods with less of a traditional story arc and fewer clear stakes. Still, very worth the effort for Hale's trademark insight and nuanced character explorations. It looks like she's focused more on MG/early readers books in recent years, but it would be great to have more classic fairytale-style fantasies!

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review 2018-03-13 18:42
Classic fantasy feels like coming home
River Secrets - Shannon Hale

Another excellent fantasy by Hale. This third book pivots to a male POV with great success, and delves into political drama and learning to value your own uniqueness. Which, yes that's the heart of nearly every YA book, but Hale has a shockingly deft touch at it; she's a master of showing through meaningful character interactions rather than navel-gazing angsty ruminations. Sad that there's only one more entry in the series.

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text 2018-03-11 03:56
Fire wants to devour; when it's inside you, you find fuel, or you become fuel
Enna Burning - Shannon Hale

This second book switches gears from a very fairytale-feeling classic fantasy to something entirely new. A side character in book one steps into the spotlight when her struggles to contain the raging power of fire propel her into the midst of a war. Enjoyable, but also upsetting, the narrative is slightly more mature and 'teen' than book 1, with a gaslighting scoundrel of an enemy captain taking up a large amount of the runtime. 

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review 2018-03-11 03:51
Lovely, classic fairytale-style fantasy
The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale writes perfect fairytale-style modern fantasies. Every book reminds me of stories I read as a kid, but the level of storytelling sophistication and nuance in characterization holds up by today's standards.


The Goose Girl launches a classic, almost remote or detached-feeling princess story in the type of Euro-historic setting that so often feels tired and overdone, but in this case feels timeless and intuitive. You know the twists are coming, but follow the characters every step of the way. Rather than predictable, the plot feels archetypal.


The princess has a rich, nuanced internal life and faces challenges with realistically flawed reactions. Things get ugly, and it's not only the strength she grows through her trials that helps her, but the hard-won friendships she makes and discovers.


Beautiful, beautiful storytelling that I'd have happily read by age 8 or so. Some light romantic stuff (after all, she's a princess on her way to get married off), but none of the awkward deep-dives into teenaged hormones or explicit behind-closed-doors scenes that push some YA into the mature category. Can't recommend highly enough.

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review 2018-02-16 16:31
Gator wrestling princesses
Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters - Shannon Hale

Another excellent entry taking things in an entirely new direction. I praised book 2 for taking (necessary and deserved) revolution and pushing back at all that anger, putting the emphasis on finding connection points and persuading enemies, instead of trying to destroy them. But The Forgotten Sisters pivots to show that sometimes standing up to wrong does mean getting a little savage.


Miri comes full circle as the new royal tutor when she's sent to the swamplands days before her pending betrothal to run the next princess academy for three sisters who are too busy hunting caimans and frogs to learn to read. War is on the horizon, and a political marriage is needed. If Miri succeeds, she can buy back her village and the mine from the king before he sells it to finance the war. If she fails, all the gains her family and friends have made disappear and the country may be overrun. But the secrets on all sides have the potential to change the game entirely.


Entertaining and with surprising heart, as always. Good for middle-grade readers and up.

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