Review of:  The Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

Reviewed by:  Nicole

Miri Larendaughter, a fourteen year old mountain girl, knows that no lowlander would let a crown sit on a mountain girl’s head. She was fine with that because she loved her little mountain, and only dreamed of working in the quarry.   Mount Eskel, Miri’s home in Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, is isolated from the rest of Danland until the trading carts from the city of Asland come each spring. One ordinary trading day, the mountain was visited by someone from the palace in Asland with an announcement:  The next princess was to be from Mount Eskel and every girl from 12 to 17 was to attend Princess Academy.  Miri thought the academy would be easy, but Teacher Olana was not going to settle for adequate.  Olana struck girls on the hand, made them go into a dark closet for hours and sent girls to bed without dinner because of disobedience or not performing well on a test.  During the endless lessons, Miri would think of home and quarry speech, which was used in mines to communicate, but Miri was never allowed in the mines which was a mystery to her.  During boring lessons or free time outside, she would try to use quarry speech, but she failed to realize what truly made it work. Quarry speech could only be used by someone who was raised in Mount Eskel and linder was the only way it would work. Since the first day she had arrived, she didn’t want to be a princess, but now she doesn’t know what she wants or who she really is anymore.   Miri didn’t know  that she would need to lead the girls to safety while using quarry speech to escape from the clutches robbers who haven’t visited the mountain for centuries.  Can Miri save the girls and find what she really wants, or will she lose everything?

The Princess Academy is so much more than a princess book; the novel is about Miri trying to find out who she really is, not a fairy tale.  I loved to read about how Miri struggles with some Academy girls, but she ends up being the person they look up to, which is  similar to girls at any school; you usually don’t get along with everyone.  I also thought the author did an incredible job building the character, Miri.  At the beginning, she is an innocent, tiny, weak girl that transforms into someone who isn’t afraid and risks her life for others.  I couldn’t put the story down because of the author’s brilliant writing and choice of words.  This book is not about just becoming a princess, but about how a mountain girl’s life is changed.

I recommend this to girls because it would be enjoyable and some girls at school might be going through the same problems. To my knowledge, fifth grade girls and up  would be the best age to understand the story and really see how Miri changes. It isn’t a fairy tale, so I think any girl could enjoy it.  I also recommend not judging it by its cover – it is an amazing book that you should read!