Published: July 6th, 2005
By: Shannon Hale
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
Miri lives on Mount Eskel, where her family quarries the linder stone that is within the mountain and lives off the land. Except for Miri, who isn't allowed to quarry with the others. She thinks it's because her Papa thinks she's not big or strong enough to help out. Things change in the villagers' routine when it's announced that the future Princess will come from Mount Eskel. An academy is established to prepare all of the eligible girls for the Prince's visit in one year's time. Miri is forced to attend the academy and at first she is miserable. But then she decides that she will learn as much as she possibly can, trying to best the other girls for the title of Academy Princess. Along the way Miri makes a discovery about the real worth of the linder stone and changes the trading practices of the villagers. But when a real threat to the girls arises, will Miri's wisdom and wit be able to save them from a disastrous fate? And who will the Prince choose to become his wife? Miri is strong, determined and very intelligent. Not to mention extremely stubborn! But she's also insecure about her place in the village and in her Father's heart. Miri is friends with Peder, a mountain boy, and she's begun to have other feelings for him as well. The Princess Academy is her chance to prove herself, but it also drives a bit of a wedge between her and Peder. Also Miri finally learns the truth about her friend Britta's mysterious past. I loved the idea of quarry-speech. The thing this book really brought to the forefront was finding your personal identity and how important it is. I enjoyed the story, but it was so very plain at times that I almost wanted a dragon to eat someone or an evil wizard to come to the village. I honestly don't really classify this book as fantasy. It was basically just historical fiction, of a made-up place. At times it was boring and I felt like I wanted to stop reading. I also felt like the situation with the bandits was so contived that it was laughable. Yet, this book still has something charming about it. I would recommend it more for middle school aged girls.
VERDICT: 3/5 Stars
*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*