Patrice Kindl,
Goose Chase
(Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

Patrice Kindl puts an original spin on Goose Chase, her enchanting tale of a goose girl turned princess and her suspiciously human-acting flock of geese.

Alexandria Aurora Fortunato, also known as Goose Girl, thinks there really can be too much of a good thing. In her case, it's the gifts bestowed upon her by an old woman to whom she was courteous: gold dust from combing her hair, tears that turn into diamonds and a face fairer than the dawn. Oh yes, the princessy dress, ruby tiara and glass slippers are added bonuses. Unfortunately, the drawback is that she is now being courted by Edmund, the rather dim-seeming prince of Dorloo and King Claudio the Cruel of Gilboa. Even more unfortunately, she's imprisoned in a tower until she makes up her mind.

Alexandria escapes the tower with the help of her geese, then lands almost literally into a kettle of trouble when a trio of unpleasant ogresses hold her captive. She manages to stave off their hunger pangs for a while, but she knows that it's only a matter of time before she is the main course. But just when she thinks things can't get any worse -- they do. Suddenly, she not only has to rescue herself but also Prince Edmund, a subsequent prisoner of the ogresses.

As they struggle to escape the ogresses and continue on their journey, Goose Girl is forced to admit that perhaps Edmund is more sheltered than dim and that perhaps he's capable of having a good idea or two.

The off-kilter plot moves at a brisk clip, packed with humor that is sharp, not broad, as well as magical hair with a life of its own, secret identities and loads of enchantment. The ending is the requisite happy ending, although not entirely predictable.

Neither are the characters. Goose Girl is rather put out at achieving princessdom; she was quite happy as a simple if somewhat overdressed goose girl. She expresses herself articulately and acidly, and she is overall a delightful heroine. Prince Edmund's character is much more subtle and provides a good foil for Goose Girl's displays. The supporting characters range from a lovesick evil baroness to a clueless soldier to a fairy godmother with attitude.

For a sassy, crisp tale you won't soon forget, let Patrice Kindl take you on a wild Goose Chase.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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