I just discovered Shannon Hale's "The Goose Girl" in the YA section and am amazed. Her story, based on the Grimm's fairy tale, is both magical and real, with characters who seem so alive they breathe right out of the pages. "The Goose Girl" is a book you can read for the joy of the story, and for the amazing things Hale does with it. She takes the elements of Grimms' fairy tale and weaves something entirely new
"She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days." She is called Ani, and is next in line to be queen until her mother announces that her younger brother will claim the throne and she will be married to the prince of Bayern, a country bordering Kildenree. Ani, weak and indecisive, is on her way to the country when half her honor guard massacres all those loyal to her and try to kill her in an attempt to make Selia, her lady-in-waiting, the queen.
Ani runs, and through the kindness of a few good people, survives and ends up as a goose girl in Bayern. She must find a way to reclaim her name, though, and soon--for the prince's marraige to Selia/Anidori is fast approaching and war is on the verge of breaking loose.
Shannon Hale just one a Newbery Honor for her book Princess Academy. Which I want to read now.