Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family's cruelty and the court's contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies - and now, so does Alyrra.
Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman's, giving Alyrra the first choice she's ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she's never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realise, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.
Inspired by The Goose Girl fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.
Princess Alyrra of Adania fears her violent brother, so it's a relief when her mother, the dowager queen, arranges for the pale-skinned teen's marriage to brown-skinned Prince Kestrin of faraway Menaiya. While en route to Alyrra's new home, her spiteful traveling companion, Valka, strikes a deal with a sorceress who is an enemy of the Menaiyan royal family. The witch casts a spell swapping the women's identities and preventing Alyrra from telling anyone; in return, Valka will help her exact vengeance upon Kestrin. Once in Menaiya, Valka banishes Alyrra from the palace, so she takes a job in the royal stables tending geese. Though Alyrra now nicknamed Thorn grows content, she knows she must try to reverse the enchantment; Valka's betrayal of the well-intentioned Kestrin seems imminent, and the beleaguered Menaiyan working class needs a compassionate princess. This originally self-published reimagining of "The Goose Girl" ends abruptly and leaves some plot threads dangling. Overall, however, Khanani delivers a moving, character-driven tale that tackles difficult topics (justice, domestic violence) with empathy and grace. Ages 13 up.