Author of mostly young adult fantasy novels, notable for her consistent inclusion of strong female protagonists and unique, subtle magic systems. Her books straddle the line between High Fantasy and low, being small-scale, low magic, and sometimes gritty or violent, but also featuring unambiguously good and evil characters and traditional happy endings. They can be a little slow in the beginning, but they are always worth the effort.
Note: Works that have their own media pages are linked to below, and the tropes for those works have been migrated to the relevant pages.
Her works include:
- The Books of Bayern:
- The Goose Girl (2003): Princess Anidori is traveling from her home kingdom to the kingdom of Bayern to marry the prince and hopefully bring peace to their two nations. Halfway there, she is betrayed by her company as they attempt to murder her and replace her with her lady in waiting, Selia. Ani escapes, but then must make her way to Bayern alone. Fearful of Selia and her guards, who still want her dead, Ani disguises herself as a city worker who tends to the geese as she plots a way to convince the king of her true identity.
- Enna Burning (2004)
- River Secrets (2006)
- Forest Born (2009)
- Princess Academy (2005). Miri lives in a village of miners on Mt. Eskel, far removed from the rest of the Kingdom of Danland. One day all the girls from the village are rounded up by an emissary from the king and sent to a finishing school — the titular princess academy — thanks to a prophecy that the prince's future wife will come from their region. Miri quickly rises to the top of her class and realizes she has a chance at becoming the princess, but struggles to choose between a better life, and leaving behind her home and the boy she's falling in love with. A sincere and realistic take on I Just Want to Be Normal, and a Newbery Honor winner.
- Palace of Stone (2012)
- The Forgotten Sisters (2015)
- Book of a Thousand Days. Dashti, a maid, is locked up in a windowless tower with her Lady Saren as punishment for Saren's refusal to go through with the marriage her father arranged for her. Saren is betrothed to Lord Khasar, who terrifies her senseless for an unknown reason, but instead wishes to marry the benevolent Khan Tegus. The book is presented as Dashti's diary, documenting her encounters with Khasar and Tegus, her attempts to keep her and Saren alive and sane in the tower, and their adventure thereafter.
- Three books in the Ever After High franchise:
- The Storybook of Legends
- The Unfairest of Them All
- A Wonderlandiful World
- Two The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl books with husband Dean Hale:
- Squirrel Meets World
- 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious
- Austenland and its sequel, Midnight in Austenland. Now a film starring Keri Russell.
- The Actor And The Housewife
- Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack, written with her husband Dean Hale and illustrated by artist Nathan Hale (no relation).
- The Princess in Black, written with Dean, illustrated by Leuyen Pham. A perfect little princess in sparkling pink is secretly a costumed vigilante who protects her land from dim-witted, goat-eating monsters.
Tropes present in multiple works of Shannon Hale:
- Damsel out of Distress: Nearly all of the girls that Shannon writes get captured or in trouble, and all of them keep their heads and end up rescuing themselves.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Some of the books' endings are happy only after the protagonists are made to suffer the worst lives ever.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: (Thousand) have their grisly ends depicted in the books.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Bayern for Germany, Danland for Scandinavia, and the Eight Realms for Mongolia.
- Plucky Girl: Hale's heroines in general tend to be, but especially Dashti. She has enough determination to keep herself and The Load going.
- The Power of Friendship: Not really of the magical variety, but friendship and teamwork are always important themes.
- Rags to Royalty: Often both played straight and inverted.
- Sadist Teacher turned Stern Teacher: Olana
- Take a Third Option: In Palace of Stone, Miri's eventual solution both to the ethics problem posed on her first day of class, and to the larger situation concerning the revolution. She close to says these exact words at the end of the book, after working it out.
- Worldbuilding: All of Hale's countries are very lovingly crafted. This results in the above slow-to-start-ness, but makes it worth your while by being fascinating.