"She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee." The first thing the modern author has added is a name. The Grimm brothers simply call their heroine Princess. Her fortunes plummet when she travels to a distant land to marry the young king. On the journey, a serving girl, fired by ambition, usurps her. By the time they arrive, the servant has donned the apparel of the princess and sits astride her horse. In this guise, she becomes the consort of the monarch. The princess is now the servant and she is given the task of tending to the royal geese. Her name becomes no more than goose girl. In Hale's version, the heroine abbreviates her last name and becomes Isi. The rest of the story follows the necessary discovery, through adversity, of her own deeper powers.
Throughout, the original story and its key motifs shape the narrative: the handkerchief, spotted with droplets of blood, given to the princess by her mother; the decapitated head of Falada, the princess's horse, nailed to the archway under which the geese are herded each day, which speaks of the heroine's sorry lot; the hapless goose boy whose hat is blown away when the goose girl summons the wind to stop him snatching a strand of her distinctive golden locks.
What the book develops from this core is a greater sense of the world in which the story unfolds. A name for the princess is but the beginning of an evocation of her family, her country, Kilindree, and its relation to Bayern, the kingdom of her betrothed.
A metaphysical dimension is also developed. This princess has powers that have long been suppressed in the culture she inhabits. It is these which she discovers as she tends the geese, and…