by Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #1
Published: July 6, 2005
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Format: Paperback (336 pages)
Miri lives on a mountain where for generations her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Princess Academy is just plain beautiful writing. The tone was bittersweet and slightly formal, which I loved. At the same time, it felt very much like a young girl narrating. I can see why this was a Newbery Honor book. I really don’t know how she managed to do that. The descriptions of the characters immediately created an image in my head and aren’t just a list of facts about them.
“Enrik!” Miri jogged to the trader she had dealt with for the past two years. He was lank and pale, and the way he looked down his thin nose at her reminded Miri of a bird that had gone too long without a grub.
-Shannon Hale, Princess Academy pg 24.
There are a lot of characters in this book. There were so many that I had to write a list of them to keep track! Each character comes with a distinct and interesting personality. Not all the girls at the Academy are nice. And their teacher, Olana, is like the offspring of Effie Trinket and Severus Snape. She was very entertaining and one of my favorite characters.
There is the barest hint of magic that shows the power of memories. I was not expecting magic in this book, and although there isn’t much of it, it is delightful and fascinating.
The ending is quite the intense. I was glued to the book as these young girls showed true bravery.
Shannon Hale continues to amaze me at her ability to have a different style in each of her books. I was pleasantly surprised by this book – it was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be, but I could still see it appealing to kids.
Overall, it was a beautifully written book about bravery and friendship with the lightest touch of magic that kids will love (and adults probably will, too).
Content Rating: Everyone. Clean read.
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