'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Review: Princess Academy

Miri lives in a mountain village known for its linder quarries. Preparing for the final visit of the traders for the season, the last thing Miri and the other girls of the village are ready for is a messenger from the King. Miri and her friends are to attend the Princess Academy and when their training is complete, the Prince will choose one of them to be his wife.

At the Academy, Miri and the other girls must deal with strict rules and harsh punishments dealt out by Olana, their teacher. Bitter rivalries develop and Miri is almost overwhelmed by homesickness and a desire to return to her father and sister and her mountain home. Things seem so bleak, but Miri and the other girls are about to discover that if they work together, they can overcome the most daunting of challenges.

I started to read Princess Academy ready for the familiar rags to riches princess story. I was delighted to discover a novel that had far more depth, with an engaging cast of characters and a storyline that showcased a variety of themes including family, friendship, courage, character and the value of education.

Miri’s love of her village and culture, largely focused on the quarrying of the linder stone, is another strong focal point in the novel. I loved Miri’s attachment to her heritage and the value she placed on being a vital part of her village and her family. Belonging and feeling connected to her community was a central to Miri’s character and it was a pleasant contrast to the more superficial themes focusing on appearance and possessions that I had expected.

Princess Academy was a delightful surprise – a novel for middle and older junior fiction readers filled with adventure, engaging characters, multiple thought-provoking themes, a detailed setting and a simply entertaining plot. The sequel, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, has been added to my reading list and I’m looking forward to reading more Shannon Hale books in the near future.

Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $15.00 RRP
Publication Date: July 2013 (First published in 2005)
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781408836804
For ages: 8-14
Type: Middle Fiction