(Excerpt from back of the book and image from http://aprilpameticky.files.wordpress.com)
My Review: Ani's tale is captivating; I truly enjoyed the overall storyline. My biggest gripe was the pacing. That's why I couldn't quite give it 4 stars or higher as many people I know have. There were many aspects to this book that I thoroughly enjoyed: Ani's relationship with animals, the twists the story throws you, the time travel back to when kingdoms reigned, the realistic portrayal of power, deception, and greed, the list goes on. The one thing that kept hanging me up from losing myself in the novel was the pacing. There were sections that dragged--not for a long time, but they still dragged. Maybe that's Hale's way of depicting real life, because in all honesty real life does have periods of time that drag between the exciting parts. I guess what got to me is that when I read a book I'm not looking for it to reflect real life with lag at times and racing to finish at others. The stopping-starting feeling got old. Take that as you will--that's why I rated this book as I did.
Ani was a great character, one I could believe and could understand why she felt so inadequate--her mother's austere footsteps would be hard to follow. One of my favorite aspects of the story was watching her come into her own and grow. The experiences she's forced to work through enrich her character and create growth I don't think her life would have had in any other way. I also loved her animal skills--how great would it be to speak with animals? The love story, although brief, was sweet and perfect for the age this book is aimed.
I would definitely recommend this to girls without hesitation that a parent would find fault with it. I wish I could say boys would enjoy it, but truly only sections would captivate them at the age this book is written for.
For the sensitive reader: Clean although violence at the end. The only racy section would be where a character sees Ani's leg from the knee down--if you can call that racy.
Rating: 3.75 Stars
Sum it up: A adventuresome twist on a princess tale.