genre: fantasy, fairy tale retelling
Princess Alyrra is from a small kingdom - and when a King from a much more prosperous land requests her hand for his son, there really is no choice to be made. She must go. But before she arrives, one betrayal suddenly gives Alyrra that glorious gift: choice. In her new role as goose girl, Alyrra can choose to work hard and find peace in her new rougher, but in some ways more free, life - or she can choose to help a prince who is surely full of secrets at a cost that may risk even her own life.
This is a fairly faithful retelling of The Goose Girl, although the more developed magical element gives it an interesting twist. Because it's a faithful retelling, there is a talking horse and that took me a while to get used to, for whatever reason. The "evil" character is an addition that adds depth to the plot and I liked how it resolved. The romantic thread is mild and that doesn't necessarily resolve in that way you'd expect but I think I liked that too, it was realistic. What I really liked was the deeper and more ethical threads of justice and mercy, the heavy responsibility that lies over those in a position to judge and meet out punishments. Intriguing and more thought-provoking than the average fantasy novel, I enjoyed it.