Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Princess Academy

To start off the new column on book reviews, I’d like to introduce one of my favorite books of all time, a really sweet fantasy classic: Princess Academy. Let me know your thoughts on the book in the comments!

Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale

Stars: 5 of 5
• 5 = an amazing book that delivers a punch. Read this! 

Teaser: High on the slopes of Mount Eskel, Miri’s family has lived forever, pounding a meager living from the stone of the mountain itself. Miri dreams of working alongside the others in the quarry, but she has never been allowed to work there—perhaps, she thinks, because she is so small.

Then word comes from the lowlands: the prince of the lowlands must choose a bride from Mount Eskel. In preparation for this unheard-of event, Miri and the other rustic Mount Eskel village girls attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal lowlander life. At the academy, Miri must challenge her mind—and discover her heart—before danger overwhelms the school.

Age level: Preteens and up

Violence: 2 of 5
• 2 = PG-level violence that's a minor theme in the book

Romance: 2 of 5
• 2 = romance is minor but present (for instance, one kiss at the end of the story)

Language: 0 of 5
• 0 = none

Christian worldview: There’s mention of the king’s priests who divine the location of the princess-to-be. However, nothing more is said of these priests than a brief reference to explain the reason for the prince selecting a wife from Mount Eskel.

On the positive side, this story heartily affirms traditional biblical values of courage and sacrifice and family and friendship and love and even obedience (quite the rarity these days).

My thoughts: Princess Academy is an incredibly sweet coming-of-age story that shows the courage and strength of one small but determined girl. Miri’s not perfect—her character is crafted with such flaws and strengths, such victories and embarrassments, that she feels utterly realistic. The other characters in the story are similarly vivid and believable.

Also, the twists and turns in the story caught me totally by surprise. The plot had enough danger that it felt meaningful, but it wasn’t just action—there was a lot of character conflict spurring the story, too.

In terms of fantasy, the book was really light on any actual magic, which I really appreciated. The one semi-magical element felt perfect within that world.

The hint of romance in the story (inevitable in any tale of prince and princess) was really well-done. It was subtle and not cliché—which, for a semi-fairytale like this one, is saying a lot.

Over the years and over the course of countless re-readings, Princess Academy has truly become one of my favorite books. I recommend it to everyone—especially young ladies—without hesitation. Read and enjoy!

Have you read Princess Academy? Do you have any thoughts about the book after reading my review?


  1. This is a book I need to get my hands on. It sounds really good. I loved her Rapunzel's Revenge, so I'm sure this book is great, too.

    1. It's different from Rapunzel's Revenge, and, in my opinion, much better. After all, books don't win Newbery Honors for nothing!

  2. I really enjoyed that book! I own it too. I like the hardcover's cover better than the paperback, but it is still a really good book. I should reread it sometime, I haven't in a few years. It has a unique feel to it, a unique world and culture. Also, it does feel like a fairy tale in depth.

    1. *gasp* You like the hardcover better than the paperback cover? But I love the paperback art so much! It matched the story's atmosphere wonderfully!

      Anyway, yes, the story definitely has a lovely and unusual flavor to it. Like a new fairytale of sorts.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  3. This book is on my 'to-read' list, but I'd forgotten about it until now. :D I'm glad to see such a positive review of it here!


    1. Read it! Read it! It's totally worth reading. After all, it won the Newbery Honor! :)

  4. Sounds like an interesting book, very much like a Disney fairytale. Only request is - can you add the page count of the book's you review? I'm one of those people who won't normally read a book if it has less than 500 pages.

    Oh, I finally finished my Christian fantasy novel and published it as a Kindle book on Amazon. It is called 'A Knight from Dein' and is aimed at teenagers/young adults. 174,000 words, equivalent of 599 pages.

    After working on it for years, including almost every lunch break for the past three years, I'm suddenly wondering what to do with myself...

    God bless

    1. Ah, great suggestion, Peter. I'll definitely add page count. (Princess Academy is 314 pages, but still definitely worth reading, in my opinion.)

      That's amazing, Peter! Congratulations! 599 pages is so impressive. And your story looks fascinating--I'll definitely write it down on my reading list. I'm amazing by your perseverance. I think it's probably a good problem not to know what to do with yourself!

  5. I've heard of this book, but didn't know much about it. Now it is definitely going on the 'to read' list!

    1. Yes, do! I'm certain you won't be disappointed :)


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