Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale
Review by Emily, Head Mama of DCR
My other blog: Whimsy Books
I believe Princess Academy was my first experience with Shannon Hale's books. I expected a typical novel about a normal girl who falls in love with a prince, becomes a princess, and lives happily ever after. I was wrong.
What I discovered, instead, was something fresh and unique, something different than all the other princess books I had ever read.
Miri wishes to be helpful in her small mountain community, but her father will not let her work. Miri assumes it is because she is so small. The people of her community work very hard in the quarries to make a meager living.
Soon, their whole world is turned upside-down. The king's priests determine that the prince's bride will come from their little town of Mount Eskel. All eligible girls are sent down the mountain to a makeshift princess academy, where they are to learn how to become princesses. At the end of their training, the prince will choose a bride from among them.
Miri has mixed feelings about the whole thing. Does she want to be the princess? Fierce competition ensues, but Miri is still battling with herself as well. At the academy, Miri finds herself, and, at the same time, is able to save the girls and the whole village.
I think what makes Princess Academy so different is the setting. A beautiful world of light fantasy that feels completely realistic. You won't find mystical creatures in Princess Academy, but you will find magic, magic that stems from the people of Mount Eskel and the mountain itself.
Miri is a well-developed strong female character. She is small in size, named after a tiny mountain flower, but big in heart and inner strength. Her relationships with her father, a mountain boy, her best friend, and the prince are complex and realistic.
I recommend this Newbery-honor book to readers of all ages. It was a pleasant surprise for me, and I have become the kind of fan that reads each new Shannon Hale title as soon as it is released.
PS...Don't forget to leave a comment on any (or all) of the Shannon Hale posts to be entered into the drawing for one of two signed Shannon Hale books!
PSS...We'll be posting the interview tomorrow. See you then!