Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I am a fairy tale fan. I simply love a good fairy tale and Princess Academy is exactly that - a fabulous fairy tale. It has all the elements – love, friendship, magic, the search for identity, the promise of wealth, heroes, evil villains, justice and injustice.

Miri is named after a beautiful flower and like the flower up until now she has lived a very protected life. While the other people of the village go out each day to work in the quarry chiseling out the linder stone that they use to trade, Miri must tend the house and the goats. Miri lives with her father and sister. Her mother died when she was a tiny newborn. “Though Miri had no memory of her save what she created in her own imagination, she thought of that week when she was held by her mother as the most precious thing she owned, and kept the idea of it tight to her heart.” Miri also has one special friend in the village a boy called Peder.

As the story opens a messenger arrives from the lowlands and he declares the Prince will come to select his new Princess and that she will be chosen from among the village girls living on remote Mount Eskel. In preparation all girls aged between twelve and seventeen must attend a training school for one year to prepare. Miri does not want to leave her home, her father. her sister or Peder but the village girls are given no choice. Life at the school is harsh but also it allows the girls to learn reading and politics, history, dancing and most importantly commerce. Miri is an eager pupil and dream of the Prince and life in a beautiful new home spurs her to work hard and strive to win the coveted award of Academy Princess. Of course nothing will turn out the way she expects.

If you loved Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Tajore Arkle by Jackie French or The Stonekeeper's Daughter by Linda McNabb then look for The Princess Academy you are sure to enjoy it too and the final chapters will leave you breathless as bandits attack the school.

Back to those fairy tales I mentioned. Do you have a favourite fairy tale? Mine is The Wild Swans. As I was looking for information about the author of this book I discovered Shannon Hale also wrote Rapunzel's Revenge which is a fabulous graphic novel and of course based on the famous fairy tale!

Thanks again to Mr K for sharing another fabulous book with me.

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