Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

Over the summer, Soren and I read the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce together. I've been trying to make sure that both kids are exposed to books with female protagonists, and in recent months I've read Matilda and Harriet the Spy to them as well. Then, this blog post by author Shannon Hale got me to seek out her book Princess Academy for Soren to read next.

He loved it, then read the sequel, and is working on the third book in the trilogy now.

I finally read Princess Academy myself last week, and I can see why it appealed to him. It's the story of Miri, a girl living not-quite-contentedly in a mountain village with her father and sister. She is forbidden by her father to do the one thing that all able-bodied villagers do, which is work in the quarry; she believes this is because she is so small and slight for her age. One day, a representative from the king comes to the village and says that priests have prophesied that the prince's future wife will be found there. All of the girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are required to attend an academy to learn the ins and outs of royal life, and after a year, the prince will visit and choose one of them to marry. At 14, Miri is among them, and though at first she doesn't really want to leave her family, she soon discovers that the education she receives at the academy could be incredibly valuable, whether or not she's chosen to be the future princess. She ends up saving the day in more ways than one, using her wits and courage.

There's a little bit of a magical element to the story (the villagers can communicate via "quarry speech" which is essentially a form of telepathy), and the worldbuilding is really quite excellent. I'm currently rotating through four different trilogies, myself -- in the last month or so, I've read the first in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy, Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, this one, and I'm currently working on the first of Dan Wells's Partials books -- and Soren was super chagrined when I told him tonight that I have two and a half more books to read before I'll get to Palace of Stone. "But Mommy! That could take you a whole month! I don't want to have to wait that long to talk about it with you." Which is a pretty compelling argument. ;) Perhaps I'll switch up my order somewhat. In any case, it does give me some incentive to find the time to get through what I'm reading faster. :)

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