I’ve been hibernating reading Winter all week. I finished late last night and can’t wait to get my thoughts together and write a review. I’m planning to get that published next week so keep an eye out!
I’m back today with a review of a novel I first read a couple of years ago and recently listened to on CD as we drove to see family during the Christmas holidays. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale is a delightful story about friendship, family, and knowledge. I have talked probably too much about how fantastic Shannon Hale is. But seriously, read her books!
A few thoughts before my review:
- Princess Academy surprised me. I am not sure what I expected (something more cheesy or cliche?) but this book is a lot more engaging than I anticipated.
- I love what Hale does with speech and words in this novel, reminds me of The Goose Girl.
- Apparently there is a new sequel out. Adding that to my TBR pile 🙂
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale follows Miri, a small 14 year old girl living in a small village on Mount Eskel–where everyone in the village carves stone for the entire kingdom. When royal word comes that their village has been selected as the place of the next princess academy (a temporary school to train girls as princesses to determine who will marry the crown prince of the kingdom), everyone will vie for the prince’s hand. There’s only a few problems–the girls are mountain made. They are tough, strong, and stubborn.
Miri is a likable main character. She is kind and seeks to build friendships with those around her, especially those who have no other friends. She also has a tough time fitting in which many girls can relate to. I found myself hoping she will be the one to marry the prince, to one he falls in love with.
One of the most intriguing ideas from this book is quarry speech. The mountain people can use quarry speech to communicate with each other through quarry stone. They use memory to encourage each other to act, speak, or be silent. Miri is able to harness her quarry speech to build her friendships with the other girls and even to save the academy. I love the idea that memory is a link between people, that memory is the way to build each other–that memory can save you.
Love comes in many forms in this book, which is refreshing. I expected a book focused on romantic love and winning the prince’s heart. But that almost seems tangential. This story is about friendship and family. Its about discovering yourself and how to make a difference. It’s about building relationships with your parents, your sisters, and girls that seem to be alone.
- Love is helping others see their value and how they can become something better.
- Love is being a friend to the friendless, a support to the unsupported, a help to the helpless.
- Love is putting family first and wanting nothing more than to help them.
And (as an added bonus) in the end, love is also the boy Miri always loved, her childhood sweetheart, the boy who carves stone for her. He’s the one. And when its all over–the bandits and the academy and the prince and the proposal–he takes her hand and changes her world.
Such a lovely novel. I hope you can experience it soon!