Friday, December 15, 2006
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale writes fantasy books with elements of fairy tales, but her books are not sweet little princess stories. Princess Academy transports readers high in the mountains to a small community that quarries precious linder stone far away from civilization. It is a shock when the people of Mount Eskel find out that the king plans to marry one of their daughters. All the teenage girls are sent to the Princess Academy to learn the ways of the "civilized" people of their kingdom and to compete for the Prince's attention. Princess Academy isn't glamorous and fun--it's full-time school with a strict and cruel tutor while snowed in all winter in a cold stone building far from friends and relatives. As Miri learns to read and finds out more about the economics of her kingdom, ideas begin to form in her head. She is torn between wanting to be chosen as princess and wanting to return to Mount Eskel and help her people. There is some suspense when bandits threaten the lives of the princesses, and Miri uses a strange kind of quarry speech to save the day. Read this book if you want to bury yourself deep into another world. And read The Goose Girl, also by Shannon Hale, which I thought was even better than Princess Academy.