Ok so. Tale follows tale almost to the letter. Ani is a princess, is sent to marry a prince, is betrayed along the way by handmaiden (loses handkerchief, horse), etc. You know what’s coming, but there are conversations, and characters have quirks, which tends not to happen in actual fairy tales (due to aformentioned foreshortening). So, bueno.
But there are a couple of character reversals that are like, What. Like when Ani, who has only ever been a tongue-tied, incompetent princess and a quiet goose girl starts giving this young lordling sauce. Or she’ll be all doot-de-doot, lost in a new city and in fear for my life etc, and then Hale is like, Right, she is supposed to be Spoiled so that she can learn to be Unspoiled (because the Very Important Lesson is…something to do with the peopleness of common people) so out of nowhere Ani is like, Well this is unfair. I am hungry and should have heaps of capons and lamb shanks to gaze at disdainfully. Even though when she’s not busy learning those lessons she’s actually super sensible.
Sometimes books like this are a little bit RPG, like, You have met an old woman. Would you like to: talk to the old woman; attempt to barter with the old woman; steal some of the old woman’s goods? You have chosen ‘attempt to barter with the old woman.’ The old woman will trade your apple (handily given you by your companion on the road) for a root (which will come in handy later). And I get that only the important interactions are included, otherwise books would be squillions of pages, but ye gads, the convenience.
I didn’t hate it, but I was a little bored and a little peeved and there is surely better than this out there.