Hale, Shannon 1974(?)–
Hale, Shannon 1974(?)–
Born c. 1974, in Salt Lake City, UT; married Dean Hale, 2000; children: Max and Maggie. Education: University of Utah, B.A.; University of Montana, M.F.A.; also studied in Mexico and England.
Writer. Allen Communications, Salt Lake City, UT, former instructional designer. Also volunteered as a missionary in Paraguay.
Top Ten Teen Book selection, American Library Association, Josette Frank Award for Fiction, both 2003, and Humpty Dumpty Chapter Book Award, 2004, all for The Goose Girl; Newberry Honor Book selection, 2006, for Princess Academy.
The Goose Girl, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
Enna Burning, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
River Secrets, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2006.
OTHER YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Princess Academy, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
Book of a Thousand Days, illustrated by James Noel Smith, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2007.
(With husband, Dean Hale) Rapunzel's Revenge, illustrated by Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2008.
Austenland (novel), Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2007.
Shannon Hale is the author of the critically acclaimed young-adult novel The Goose Girl and its companion volumes, Enna Burning and River Secrets. The Goose Girl, a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, concerns Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, the crown princess of Kildenree. Princess Ani possesses the remarkable ability to speak to animals, especially birds, yet she fails to connect with her fellow humans. This disappoints Ani's mother, the queen, and she arranges for her daughter to be married to a prince in Bayern, a neighboring kingdom. During the journey to her new home, Ani is betrayed by Selia, an ambitious lady-in-waiting who steals Ani's identity and attempts to murder the princess. Ani escapes into the forest, takes refuge with a kindly woman, and eventually makes her way to the royal palace in Bayern, where she serves as a goose herder while Selia poses as princess in her stead. When Ani learns of Selia's plot to incite a war between Kildenree and Bayern, she must rally the forest dwellers and farmhands to help her reclaim her rightful position. "Hale's retelling is a wonderfully rich one, full of eloquent description and lovely imagery, and with a complex plot, a large cast of characters, and a strong female protagonist," noted Connie Tyrrell Burns in the School Library Journal. Anne O'Malley, reviewing the work in Booklist, called The Goose Girl "a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion."
Hale chose to retell "The Goose Girl," a favorite story from her childhood, because of its timelessness, she told an interviewer on the Embracing the Child Web site. "The old tales, the tales the Grimm Brothers collected, lasted for decades and centuries for a reason," Hale commented. "There's a reason ‘The Goose Girl’ was worth telling generation after generation, passed from mother to daughter, persevering orally until it was written down in the nineteenth century. That's a story worth telling. That's a story that's going to resonate with a reader and yet surprise her still, a tale both old and new."
Enna, a forest girl who befriends Princess Ani in The Goose Girl, is the protagonist of Hale's 2004 novel Enna Burning. Having watched her brother develop the mysterious ability to speak to fire, only to lose his life while fighting an invading army, Enna decides to learn his secrets and assume her brother's role as a protector of the kingdom. She soon realizes, however, that fire is not easily controlled, and her newfound power places her in danger. "Enna's fire can be seen as desire, or a drug, or the will to power, or simply as a gift that must be made manifest," wrote a critic in Kirkus Reviews. "Hale has a deft touch with her prose and characterization," Charles de Lint observed in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. "The story is fast-paced and satisfying," the critic added, "and I especially liked how she was able to depict the ability to speak with the elements as both a wondrous thing and a terrible, soul-destroying power."
Another forest child is the protagonist of Hale's third novel in the "Bayern" series, River Secrets. Razo first made an appearance in The Goose Girl, and has since been called to the service of Queen Isi because of his innate abilities as a spy. As he sets out to investigate a recent string of murders, he learns that only by uncovering the truth can a war be prevented between Bayern and its enemy Tira. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that although the novel is a companion to earlier Hale works, it "stands on its own as a unique and tender coming-of-age story." "Suspenseful, magical, and heartfelt," wrote Gillian Engberg in a review for Booklist, "this is a story that will wholly envelop its reader."
Princess Academy, a 2005 work, follows the adventures of Miri who, along with the other girls of her village, attends a special school for budding princesses. "I love the possibilities of fantasy," Hale told Dennis Lythgoe on the Deseret Morning News Online Web site. "I heard someone say once that fantasy makes adults feel the wonder of childhood again—when everything was new." She continued: "I've longed for a merging of fantasy and literary fiction. I like the excitement, the page-turning feel of fantasy."
Austenland marks Hale's first foray into adult fiction, a story called a "clever confection" by Booklist reviewer Mary Ellen Quinn. Hale tells the story of a young woman who is jaded by a series of bad relationships and who is obsessed with the characters from Jane Austen novels. A vacation to a Regency-themed estate leads to complications as she falls for two men playing out different Austen characters. A Publishers Weekly critic commented that "the narrative is endlessly charming."
In Book of a Thousand Days, Hale reworks one of the more obscure fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. The book features a young orphan girl named Dashti, who was raised on the steppes of Central Asia but has been forced to move to the city in search of work. There she takes a position working for a noblewoman, the Lady Saren. It is a good job and Dashti is happy in her work. However, when the Lady Saren chooses to refuse a proposal of marriage from an advantageous suitor, both she and Dashti are punished. The two women find themselves locked together in a high tower, sentenced to spend the next seven years there, unable to leave. The tower has but one small window, and even that comfort is lessened by the fact that the Lady Saren's suitors may come to the window and continue to pledge themselves. Hale tells the story in diary installments from Dashti's point of view, relating both the period of imprisonment, and the harsh changes that have taken place in the world once the women escape their tower. Gillian Engberg, in a review for Booklist, opined that "readers will quickly embrace Dashti, an invincible storybook heroine with a healer's touch. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "the tale spins out to a thoroughly satisfying ending."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2003, Anne O'Malley, review of The Goose Girl, p. 1971; September 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Enna Burning, p. 232; September 15, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of River Secrets, p. 61; March 15, 2007, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Austenland, p. 24; September 15, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Book of a Thousand Days, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of The Goose Girl, p. 910; September 12, 2004, review of Enna Burning, p. 866.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of The Goose Girl, p. 12.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January, 2005, Charles de Lint, review of Enna Burning, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2003, review of The Goose Girl, p. 80; September 4, 2006, review of River Secrets, p. 69; February 12, 2007, review of Austenland, p. 59; September 24, 2007, review of Book of a Thousand Days, p. 73.
School Library Journal, August, 2003, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of The Goose Girl, p. 160; September, 2004, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of Enna Burning, p. 206.
Bloomsbury USA Web site,http://www.bloomsburyusa.com/ (February 1, 2005), "Shannon Hale."
Deseret Morning News Online,http://deseretnews.com/ (August 17, 2003), Dennis Lythgoe, "Author Born to Tell Stories."
Embracing the Child,http://www.embracingthechild.org/ (May 11, 2008), author interview.
Shannon Hale Home Page,http://www.squeetus.com (June 18, 2007).