Princess Academy, a book by Shannon Hale, is a book that I read for the Fantasy Reading Challenge that I’m participating in, (Yes, it was in February) is a book that I stole from In the Bookcase’s TBR List. Although I didn’t participate in the challenge’s second half, I still wanted to review this book because it was so awesome.
In a tiny mountain town in a territory unworthy even to be called a province in Danland, workers mine linder, a stone so precious that it is the only rock that can be used in the king’s palace. It is here that Miri, a motherless, friendless girl lives with her father and sister. Although everyone else works in the quarry, Miri is not allowed to set foor in the quarry at all.
One day, out of the blue, and important messenger arrives from the lowlands with a startling message: This little town has been chosen as the home of the prince’s future bride. All girls of eligible age must attend a finishing school in preparation for the prince’s choice of bride.
As all the girls start school under the watchful eye of Tutor Olana, who often doles out frequent and often unfair punishments, Miri faces the competition of girls she has never called friends and her conflicting desires to stay on the mountain with Peder, a boy that calls her his “best friend”, or to go to the lowlands to marry the prince.
However, Miri has her own secrets.She is learning, something other than the Reading, Danlander History, Diplomacy, and other courses in the school. Since she was never allowed into the quarry, she had never learned this art, the art which all the quarry-workers knew. However, with practice, she learns this skill, and it is with this skill that starts to bind her close to the other girls. It is with this skill that allows her to communicate. It is with this skill that she employs when her class runs in the peril.
This was an incredibly well written, well-put-together, spell binding, and beautiful book. If I had a word to describe it, it would be enchanting. And no, that’s not because it’s a princess book. In fact, Princess Academy is about as far of a princess book that I have ever read. It defies the standard prince, ball, ball gown, magic everywhere, happily-ever-after type fantasy story. In the beginning of the book, when it said that Miri was not allowed into the quarry, I surmised that it was going to be a Sleeping Beauty cliche-y type fairytale retelling. However, this book surpassed all my expectations, performing plot twists and unexpected endings that defied all my expectations.
This book seems to cover everything, from Miri’s striving to become accepted, to her earnest desire to work in the quarry with the other townspeople, to her attraction to Peder, this book passes over all the normal princess stuff for a much deeper, more intricately woven story.
Having accidentally gotten a little spoiler from GoodReads, I presumed I knew what was going to happen. However, the plot twists so intricately woven into the storyline made the ending so exponentially different from what I had expected, which was incredibly gratifying. I especially appreciate the ending, the way all the loose endings, even down to minute details were tied up. I love how reconciliation came about, I love how truth prevails in the end, and I love how (this is probably the most cliche part of the entire book) family and friends are always better than any material possessions.
Although I have never considered myself to be a fantasy reader, preferring to read historical fiction and mysteries, this book has captured my interest and leads me to want to read the rest of the books in the trilogy, as well as other books in the fantasy genre.
RockandMinerals4Him rating- 10/10 (if there are pluses, then I’d give those too).