When the King’s priest decrees that Mount Eskel, a small mountaintop village, is the home of the future princess all the young girls are abuzz with excitement. For most of the villiage girls it means trading in a cold mountain to live in the lush green lowland. It means never having to worry about trade or food? It means a secure future for them and their families.
For Miri, the smallest of the Mount Eskel girls, this news doesn’t bring excitement or joy. Always eager to prove her usefulness, for Miri this means leaving the only home she’s ever known and loved to move into the Princess Academy – a school set up to better the “unknowing” mountain girls. It means leaving the only home she’s ever known and loved.
But it’s there, at the Princess Academy, where Miri realizes just how useful she is – not only to the academy but to all of Mount Eskel. She learns to read, write, and the rules of trade – all lessons she could teach to the people of Mount Eskel. Besides those things, it’s there that Miri learns how much he mountain means to her, and how much she means to her mountain.
Will all of Miri’s hard work pay off? Or will Miri sacrifice the chance to be princess for her beloved Mount Eskel?
Written by acclaimed author Shannon Hale, the Princess Academy is a heartwarming story of the world and one’s place within that world.
Hale’s writing is exquisite. And what makes it so it the imagery conjured up from the text. The character’s are realistically created. Miri and Britta will feel more like best friends readers have grown up with, rather than characters in a story. Mount Eskel pops off the page, so much so readers will be able to hear the query speech the text often refers to, will be able to feel the cool mountain air whip across their face as they read.
Beyond the vivid descriptions, Hale’s writing has a lyrically poetic tone to it. Each chapter flows seamlessly into another. Beyond this, as a reader, I especially loved the chapter openings: songs depicting the events of the chapter. These songs aren’t tell all, but add a another complex layer to the Princess Academy.
Within the pages of Hales the Princess Academy readers will face hardships, adventure, love, and a life alongside the well crafted characters. When it seems that Danlan has turned their backs on Mount Eskel, reader’s will find themselves rooting for the mountaintop village.
Readers will especially root for Miri, a true heroine, that readers will learn from and look up to. She’s determined to make life better for, not only herself, but all the people she loves and cares about. Miri is brave. She stands up for what she believes in, even if standing up opens the closet door for punishment. Miri is smart. It’s her quick wit and even quicker thinking that gets her and her friends out of trouble.
Readers may judge the Princess Academy solely on the title. It’s a “girl” book full of fluff and frills. But the reality is this: it’s far from fluff and frills. It’s a rough and tough kind of book that suited for all readers – no matter of age, size, or gender.
The Princess Academy is a great read that will leave readers wanting more. And luckily for readers the second installment – The Princess Academy: Palace of Stone – has just recently been released.