I have heard about this book for years and have several friends who are fans of the Bayern series. I finally picked up a copy. (Actually I was trying to give Shannon Hale a chance to redeem herself in my eyes after the Actor and the Housewife disaster.)
I enjoyed reading this story. Its re-telling of a Grimm's fairytale, which I knew nothing about. Maybe that's why the book felt so dreamy and magical. Of the Shannon Hale books I've read, I think her writing style worked the best in this book.
I liked the character of Ani. I especially liked the decisions she makes once she gets to Bayern. I think she is a strong female protagonist for upper elementary/middle school readers.
I do think the story started too slow. I think the build up of her feelings about her life, being a princess, and her relationship with her mother could have been conveyed more briefly. I was also confused when Ani's special power of talking with animals, especially birds, kind of transformed into the power to talk to and use the wind. It seemed weird to me.
Overall I think this is a nice middle grades book. I'm interested in reading the other stories in the series.