• Whitney

An Unexpected Delight: Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

I'll admit it. Classic award winner that it is, when I read Shannon Hale's Princess Academy AGES ago, I didn't really like it. It was just one of those books that didn't work for me. Or maybe it just didn't work for me at that moment in my life. Whatever my issues with it, that initial experience kept me from reading any more of Hale's fiction. Until this week.

Today I finished Hale's Enna Burning, the sequal to Goose Girl (which I haven't read, but I will now). And I loved it. It was one of those rare books I couldn't put down. So, when my supposedly napping 18-month-old son woke up screaming 3 pages from the end of the book, I was a tad bit heartbroken.

Ain't that always the way it is?!

But I'm a sneaky reader and I got my three pages read between diaper changes, snack times, and fingernail clipping.

Here's why I unexpectedly loved Enna Burning.

It took me back...

...to Adolescent Whitney. Adolescent Whitney loved Robyn McKinley's fantasy novels, especially The Blue Sword series. Like The Blue Sword series, Enna Burning depicts the growth, fears, and adventures of young women, young warriors really, whose encounters with magic have consequences that reverberate throughout their personal lives and the fates of their countries. There's no easy win for these heroines, and this felt real to me as a teen.

It feels real to me now, too. Every win takes sacrifice, at the very least in the form of an exhausting amount of hard work. McKinley's heroines live this and so do Hale's. I appreciate this foundation of versimilitude in my fantasy.

Hale's voice...

...is hypnotic, fast-paced, but also subtle. Even though the novel is written in third person, Hale lets Enna, her heroine, tell the story. Every scene is filtered through Enna's perspective and experiences. As a writer who prefers writing in third person, Hale's work is a great example of what I want my own novels to look, sound, and feel like--poetic and sifted through the sight of my main characters.

There are other reasons...

...to like Enna Burning, whether you're a writer, an old-school fantasy lover, or just a person who likes to read a good book. There's magic, "twu wuv," and a fabulous friendship between powerful women. I loved it. And I didn't expect to. Isn't that the best?

Have you read any works by Shannon Hale? Did you love em or hate em? I'd love to know!

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