Review: Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

It was a lovely idea and Miri wished she could believe it, but she knew the lowlanders would never allow a crown to sit on a mountain girl’s head. 

High on the slopes of rocky Mount Eskel, Miri’s family pounds a living from the stone of the mountain itself.  But Miri’s life will change forever when word comes that the next princess will be chosen from her village. All eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal life. At the school, Miri finds herself confronting bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicting desires to be chosen. Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri who must find a way to save her classmates and the future of their beloved village. 

I admit that, like most little girls, I went through a princess phase.

It started when I was little — I’m not sure when — and ended when I was about nine (or a bit younger — maybe seven). It was never very extreme anyway. Once it ended, I didn’t think about princesses much, except to think that Disney was being a little open in its definition of “princess”. (Because really, Pocahontas? Not technically a princess. Neither was Belle.)

Which is why it’s so weird that I picked up Princess Academy, a book about a group of village girls learning to become princesses in the hope they’ll marry the prince. I thought it would be an interesting light read while I was on holiday. 

Well, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Oh, no, it wasn’t bad or anything; it’s just that instead of it being a nice light read I stayed up all night to finish it.

I’ve read really gripping books and I’ve read books that aren’t so gripping. Princess Academy falls somewhere in the middle. I just felt like I had to finish it, so I didn’t go to bed until I had, regardless of the fact that I had to get up quite early in the morning.

Overall, I found the book a pleasant read. The characters were fun, and Miri’s attempts to be accepted by her peers make her relatable. Most of the action comes in the last few chapters; before that, most of the conflict in the book comes from Miri’s attempts to fit in and make friends, and trying to learn everything a princess needs to know in just one year. The ending subverted all my expectations, and was quite satisfying, I found. Princess Academy is a good book for a girl of any age, be she young or old.

Overall rating: 4/5


4 responses to “Review: Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

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