Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*****Enna Burning

by Shannon Hale

Reviewed November 18, 2004.
Bloomsbury, New York, 2004.  317 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF HAL).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #4, Fantasy for Young Adults

I was delighted to get to read Enna Burning, set in the world of The Goose Girl, one of my favorite books ever.  The Goose Girl was a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but Enna Burning takes off on a whole new story.  It’s a darker tale, a story of war, but it ends up as a beautiful story of friendship.

Like Robin McKinley, Shannon Hale is able to write about heroines in a way that makes me love them from the start.  I wish I knew how they did it.  Perhaps they’ve got a gift of magic themselves.

In The Goose Girl, Princess Isi learns how to speak the languages of birds and the wind.    In Enna Burning, Isi’s friend Enna is back in the Forest, her home.  Her brother finds a parchment that teaches him to speak the language of fire.  When their country of Bayern goes to war, he uses the fire in the service of his country.  However, fire is horribly destructive, and the power he unleashes burns him to ash.  Enna is afraid to read the parchment.  When she does, will she be able to withstand and control the dreadful power of flame?  Will she be able to help Bayern become victorious?

I was amazed that Shannon Hale was able to pull off a satisfying conclusion to this powerful story.  It asks big questions about war and power and compulsion and friendship. 

Of course, the publication of Enna Burning gave me the perfect excuse to reread The Goose Girl.  On a second reading, I think I can safely say that The Goose Girl is up among my few favorites such as The Blue Sword and The Blue Castle and the Emily books.  Enna Burning, as a darker book, didn’t steal my heart as securely.  However, it was a logical extension to the ideas of The Goose Girl.  We see Isi and Enna having to deal with powers that have only begun to stir in The Goose Girl.  This is a wonderful follow-up to a wonderful book.

Reviews of other books by Shannon Hale:
Shannon Hale Books

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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