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Princess Academy #1

Princess Academy

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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.

314 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2005

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About the author

Shannon Hale

145 books13k followers
Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including the upcoming Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig.

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5 stars
41,235 (36%)
4 stars
43,256 (38%)
3 stars
22,558 (19%)
2 stars
4,934 (4%)
1 star
1,814 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,123 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
September 12, 2018
The Princess Academy is a favorite comfort read, and a delightful older middle grade/younger YA fantasy, nominated for the 2006 Newbery Award.

Miri is a teenage girl living in a small, simple mountain village, where everyone makes a living quarrying a lovely marble rock that is found only on their mountain. It's a sometimes harsh life, with everyone kind of scraping to get by, but filled with love and close friendships. One day the simple life ends: the priests of their country have mystically divined that the prince is to marry a girl from their village. The king's ministers, appalled that their prince needs to marry a rough and unsophisticated village girl, set up an academy, a day's hike down the mountain from the village, and force all the marriageable teenage girls in the village to go live there and be intensely tutored for a year, at which point the prince will arrive in great pomp, there will be a formal dance, and he'll choose his bride. Yay?

Most of the story follows Miri and the other village girls as they deal with a harsh, cold head mistress of the academy, and the competition between them to be the head of the class (which earns you the best dress at the princess ball, plus some other perks). Miri deeply wants to be at the top of the class, but she's also conflicted because of her feelings for a boy back in the village.

What I love about this book is that it's about more than just a competition to win the attention and heart of the prince. It's also about friendship, the importance of education, and being a strong person and true to your heart. There's some magic in it, though it's fairly subtle.

Highly recommended! Read this instead of The Selection unless your main interest is in teen makeout scenes.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,399 reviews11.7k followers
October 17, 2009
Sometimes you just want to take a break from endless angst and sexual tension of currently popular both adult and YA books and read something light and inoffensive. "Princess Academy" is an excellent choice for this purpose. Although this is an obviously children's book, it is not silly or overly simplistic. The fairy tale is very imaginative and teaches many valuable lessons (importance of education is among many of them), but never in a preachy way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found myself extending my walks and slowing my driving just to continue listening to this excellent full cast audio. My only complaint was that the main narrator read a little too slowly, I really wanted her to speed it up a bit.

Overall, a great experience. I will definitely read more of Shannon Hale's books when I am in a mood for a nice fairy tale.

Reading challenge: #1 - P.
Profile Image for Beth Given.
1,230 reviews33 followers
August 21, 2012
AUGUST 2012: Just re-read (technically re-listened) to this one in anticipation of the sequel coming out this month. Loved this book all over again!


MAY 2007: So the latest books I’ve read … I haven’t exactly enjoyed. I mean, I do finish them and everything, so they must have been okay, but it’s not like I was ever reaching for my book multiple times a day, binging on pages. I’ve kind of missed that.

But all that changed with Princess Academy! Seriously — I loved this book.

(I should probably only admit this through the relative anonymity of the Internet. Seriously … Princess Academy? What am I, eleven?! Oh well.) :-)

This book is written for children. Nevertheless, the writing was terrific (I didn’t feel like I was being led by the hand through the whole story, as some children’s writing might — must be one of the reasons it became a Newbury Honor book). I thought the pacing was perfect; key pieces of information were given a little at a time. It is fairy-tale-ish, and happy endings abound, but none of those endings (even the romance) ended up being sickeningly unrealistic.

I loved the themes of this book: education as a key to opportunity, diplomacy to work through problems, kindness to all (even when they don’t seem to deserve it) which leads to empathy and understanding.

One of my favorite books I’ve read this year, hands down.
Profile Image for HT Goodwill.
19 reviews26 followers
June 29, 2007
Overall, the book was well written and appropriate for a young adolescent audience. It was certainly not written for someone in my demographic!

I enjoyed a number of aspects of this book and also a few disappointements. Specifically,

1) The resolution of the primary conflict (who gets to be the princess) felt too much like a plot-device (I can't say more without giving away the ending) that the author threw into the story to avoid a painful conflict between the characters.

2)The culture of the mountain village and the kingdom as a whole was not developed enough - there was a lot of good potential here. On the other hand...

3) What culture was discussed permeated the story. Things like 'quarry-singing', holding hands, and twirling the miri flowers (to name a few) were present throughout the story, lending the culture a consistancy.

4) However, the absolute BEST aspect of this book is the over-all theme on the value of education. It was wonderful to see the education the girls received transforming their lives and the lives of their families. Further, I loved how the principle characters recognized the impact and determined to continue pursuing and sharing it.

Despite the two negative comments above, please don't misconstrue my review for a negative one. As I said before, this book wasn't really wriiten for me. Were I an adolescent girl this probably would rate 5 stars. I think my daughters will thoroughly enjoy reading the book when they get older (I know I will recommend it to them) and I highly recommend the book for any adolescent girls you may know.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books430 followers
February 7, 2022
“No wolf falters before the bite, so strike.
No hawk wavers before the dive, so swing.
No sun pauses before the set, just strike.
No rain delays before the fall, just swing.”

So What’s It About?

Miri’s people have lived on Mount Askel for generations, quarrying rich stone for trade with the kingdom that lies below. The simplicity of life in her village is shattered when word comes that the king’s priests have divined that the prince’s bride will be one of the village girls. In response, every teenage girl in the village must leave her family to attend an academy intended to prepare them for the possibility of becoming princess. At the academy Miri will have to confront how big the world truly is and how little she knows of it, all the while struggling to find her place with the other girls and fighting the prejudice of her instructor. Does she even want to be princess if it means leaving her beloved mountain home?

What I Thought

I’m actually starting to dread the day when I re-read a classic from my childhood and it ends up disappointing me. I’ve been extremely lucky so far (or maybe Little Charlotte had excellent taste in books…) because Princess Academy stands up just as well as Ella Enchanted, Dealing with Dragons and The Hero and the Crown.

For all the emphasis that is put upon the girls preparing themselves to meet the prince, it’s fascinating just how incidental he ends up being in the grand scheme of the story. More than anything, this is actually a story about the doors that are opened by access to good education. The prize that Miri wins at the end of the story is not a prince’s love; it is confidence, the ability to negotiate and advocate for herself and her village, and the chance to stand up against the exploitation that is being enacted against her people. From the start, Miri is very aware of the way her people are stigmatized and judged for being “simple” mountain people and as she grows in knowledge and self-esteem her desire to fight against this unfairness only grows

The prince is also fairly tangential to Miri’s story because the most important relationships in the books are the bonds that form between all of the academy girls. The importance and power of female friendship, support and communication in this book really cannot be overstated, and while there is a lot of competition between them especially in the start of the book, nearly all of the girls gradually learn that the most important thing is to support each other so they can all succeed. One of my favorite scenes in this regard is the scene where they all use quarry-speak to help each other with an exam so that they can go back to the village for a holiday.

Just as Miri is instrumental in the push to better her village with the education the girls receive, she is also instrumental in the development of this sisterhood between the girls, but in the beginning of the book she is something of an outcast amongst them because her disability prevents her from working with them in the mines. Hale does an excellent job of presenting Miri’s insecurity, shame and secret feelings of being useless, and it is an absolute joy to see the delicacy with which she explores the shame in particular. Miri projects her own inner shame onto the people of the village, assuming that they think her just as useless as she thinks she is, and because she never talks about there is no chance for her to realize that her assumptions are in fact without basis. It’s a wonderfully done examination of the way that shame perpetuates itself through silence and isolation, and I think one of the book’s greatest triumphs is when Miri is finally able to break through that shame to connect genuinely with others.

I love Miri for her cleverness, courage, vulnerability and humor and I love all of the girls of the academy, from shy fellow outcast Britta to Katar, the “mean girl” of the group. Consistently nasty as she is to Miri, it is ultimately revealed that her unkindness and competitiveness come from her fierce unhappiness on the mountain and her desperate desire to know other places:

“‘I want to be somebody else and see other things. And now I never will.’ Miri shivered at a breeze coming up from the valley. All her life she had seen herself as the only lonesome thing in the world, but now even Katar seemed but a small child lost on a far hill.”

As ever, Miri is an agent of change and encourages Princess-to-be- Britta to bring Katar down the mountain as a court representative of the mountain people. Miri knows more than ever that her mountain is home, but now she has the tools to help make that home flourish more than ever. It’s a lovely ending to a lovely book, and as I just recently discovered that there are two sequels, you may have to listen to me talk about them sometime in the near future.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,652 followers
June 14, 2015
Every now and then I like to read a good children's book, especially if it has a smart heroine. Princess Academy was perfect reading for a Sunday afternoon. It tells the story of Miri, a 14-year-old girl living on a mountain that mines a valuable stone. One day, it's announced that the prince will choose his next princess from Miri's village, and all of the girls are sent to an academy to be educated.

Miri is a spunky girl: she studies hard, she tries to make friends and she stands up for the rights of others. What I especially liked is how the author emphasized education — Miri finds a way to use her new knowledge to help her family and the village.

By the end of the book, it didn't really matter who became princess, because Miri had found her purpose in life.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants a delightful dose of girl power.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,158 followers
August 21, 2010
The linder quarries on Mount Eskel make for hard labour, but the villagers who mine it wouldn't trade their life for anything. The linder stone takes skill to extract in whole blocks from the mountainside, and its qualities enable them to converse without speaking.

Fourteen year old Miri wants nothing so much as to join her father and older sister in the quarry. But she's small, and her father has forbidden her to set foot in the quarry. Instead, Miri tends the goats; teases her childhood friend, Peder; and wishes on the little miri flowers that she was named after to be allowed to work with everyone else in the quarry.

But everything changes the day the traders arrive for the last time before winter, bringing with them an official from the capital of Dunland - a messenger from the King. It has long been a tradition that the priests name the city from which the prince and heir to the throne must choose his bride. This time, causing great shock amongst the noble families of Dunland, the priests have named Mount Eskel - so overlooked it's not even considered a province of Dunland.

And so, further down the mountain in an abandoned stone manor house, the Princess Academy is established. Usually a formality, this time the girls aged thirteen to seventeen really must be trained - taught to read and write, how to walk and talk, about history and geography, diplomacy and economics.

Most of the girls don't want to become princess, and their families need them back in the village and quarry, but even so, competition sparks amongst them. Who will be princess? Could Miri, who does so well at her studies and was able to make the prince smile, be the one? (And what about Peder?) Yet when a threat comes to the Academy, curtseys and platitudes won't save them - only wits, mountain strength and Miri's determination.

This is the first Hale book I've read, and arguably her most popular one. It wasn't what I expected, but really it was better than I expected. It's one of those quiet fantasy books, like General Winston’s Daughter - nothing showy, no loud magic tricks or evil sorcerers or that tedious battle between good and evil (yawn). It also didn't follow those boring fantasy clichés that so many authors seem to enjoy perpetuating - a patriarchal social structure, for instance. Men and women work alongside each other in the quarry, and respect each other. Gender doesn't come into it. I got the impression that, despite classic hierarchies and class divisions, the rest of Dunland is much the same. The setting still had that typical medieval flavour, but with new angles and greater equality. Since it's Fantasy, not historical fiction, this is precisely the kind of thing I want to see - and don't get enough of.

The story is also disarmingly simple in its style - the prose has that lovely, unburdened quality that's usual in YA and Children's fiction - no fancy adjectives, no heavy-handed descriptions, no long-winded paragraphs: light on its feet, detailed and yet deceptively straight-forward. Perfect for its target age group (9-12) but just as enjoyable for the rest of us.

I loved Miri: she was a sympathetic character, a resourceful, intelligent, spirited girl you could really admire. She makes a great role model. The other girls weren't as fleshed-out as I'd have liked, but their characters still came through in small ways. The plot wasn't predictable, and the ending was very sweet. I also loved the small role economics plays in the story, not to mention the power an education gives you - Miri uses her hard-won knowledge from the Academy to improve her village's ability to trade, thus improving the quality of life on the mountain as well as their bargaining power. See, it's educational as well as a fun read!
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 167 books37.5k followers
December 29, 2016
Had a very long drive ahead of me yesterday, so took this lovely book along to reread it.

It was never very surprising to this old reader; I could see the plot turns coming a few chapters before they did, but the true pleasure is in the relationships of the families in the mountain village where Miri lives, and of course the relationships of the girls as they develop.

This reading, I appreciated how Hale takes the time to give all the girls at least some personality, and some chance to change and grow, even if lightly sketched in. I loved the evolution of Miri's assumptions (often driven by anger and hurt) and how she would immediately catch herself when perceiving others' anger and hurt, and her attempts to communicate rather than brood for chapters over misunderstandings.

I also loved how the girls decided how to deal with the prince coming to choose one of them before he came, and how everything resolved. And the touches of magic were subtle and fun. Such a lovely book!
Profile Image for Kate Willis.
Author 20 books501 followers
January 7, 2021
Confession: I waited too long to read this book. The little snatches of writing style I had seen didn’t look that good, and the description gave me the suspicion that it would be The Same Old Story. I was happily wrong and discovered one of the best fantasies I’ve ever read. ;) The worldbuilding was really good and not too bizarre. It felt almost like somewhere straight out of Alps with hardworking, friendly (if slightly quarrelsome) neighbors. I loved the descriptions of the desolately beautiful quarry, the persistent miri flowers (which are actually real!), and the linder rocks. Miri was a likeable heroine--not too strong-willed, smart, or timid. Just a regular, interesting girl. ;) The academy was a unique idea, and I loved how the girls used what they had learned to help their community without becoming the leaders of it. Britta was so sweet after she loosened up a little, and I liked what ended up happening with Katar.

The encouragement to reach out to people despite their unfriendliness and band together was really excellent. I nearly laughed when they used the rules of diplomacy together on Olana, and the way they helped each other through the test was pretty awesome. ;) Spring holiday sounds like a ton of fun and is just another glimpse of the close-knit community portrayed in this book. One character who was immensely complicated and challenged my initial opinion of him was Miri’s father. I grew to love him. The ending was really unexpected and for a split second I felt cheated. But once I thought about it, I loved it. :D Love, love, loved it. That’s really how it should have turned out, and the lasting effects of the academy were their own reward.

Not recommended for younger readers because of a slight element of romance; ; and extreme danger to . Also, the view of God in this book subtly reflects the Mormon religion even though it is in a fantasy setting.

Best quote:

Altogether, I very much enjoyed this sweet and satisfying read! I can't wait to read the other books in this series. ;)
Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 145 books83.2k followers
September 3, 2008
I really liked it when the girls started pulling together and thinking past the fairytale, deciding that was in their best interest.
Profile Image for Abby.
552 reviews112 followers
March 22, 2019
The half-exposed slabs and laboring villagers gave the place energy, a feeling that here was where all the work of the world was done. Here everything was important. Sometimes just looking at it made Miri's chest feel hollow.

I love to read middle-grade books. That's something I determined a long time ago. And when one loves to read middle-grade books, certain stories crop up over and over in your recommendations from various sources. "Princess Academy" was one of those books. So when I saw it at a good price in a pretty edition at a used bookstore, I picked it up. And then proceeded not to read it for a long time because what are TBR piles for if not for sitting in the corner staring you down judgmentally?

But hey, I finally picked it up. And was reminded why I love middle-grade books so much.

Miri's story felt nostalgic even though I shouldn't have any reason to be nostalgic for it. It reminded me of books I loved as a kid, and I understand now why it's such a staple of middle-grade for so many people. Miri is a wonderful main character to follow, strong-willed but smart enough to calculate her position, not afraid to stand up for her village against the traders but soft-hearted enough to want to please her family and friends. I just love her a lot.

I also appreciated how I actually got to recognizing a lot of the names of the other girls at the Academy. Situations with 20+ characters in them can sometimes overwhelm me, but I actually could keep track of the ones we were introduced to without too much difficulty. Which, I feel, is a compliment to Shannon Hale.

Other things I loved:
- Peder
- Miri and Britta's friendship
- Esa, just overall. I love her.
- the lasting effects of the Academy on Mount Eskel.
- the whole vibe of the Mount Eskel village in general, tbh. it felt almost Avonlea-ish, and it's great.
- the test on the hill and the overlapping answers
- the ENDING i'm so HAPPY
- it worked out exactly how I wanted it to I just didn't know how I wanted it to work out for like... most of the book xD I was torn but I looooved the way it worked out.
- Miri's relationship with her Pa by the end *all the heart eyes*

My only issue was with Olana and the way the Academy was run. It just bothers me when adults mistreat kids because they can or because they think "it's the best way". It's not. As someone who works with kids, it's not. So that still bothers me about this book, but I loved the rest of it enough to still give it five stars. Yeah. It's great.
Profile Image for Donita Luz.
158 reviews49 followers
January 1, 2016
This was such a wonderful fairytale read!

A prince, selecting a girl to marry! The Selection? Read this instead!

Experience a fantastic adventure to knowledge and True Love with small but Terrible Miri!

Profile Image for Melanie Kilsby.
Author 2 books273 followers
September 21, 2017
Miri just wants to make her father proud and be like all Mount Eskel's people mining its beautiful stone. But when an opportunity for her to be a Princess is forced on their people, can she refuse? Or will this new path change her life forever?

I LOVED this middle grade book.
Though it's not written with a Christian world-view, it almost had an Esther-type retelling. Shannon Hale did a great job at bringing a clean respect to God in this book. Even having faithful rest days, which I very much appreciated. Plus, there was this really unique language the Mountain people had that could only be used through the stone. Super cool! But, because it starts with singing, it reminded me of worship, of prayer and praying for each other as Christians, connecting us together as one... which I thought was neat.

This book focuses on making a difference even if you are small and finding out what you are good at. It's about finding courage and strength in those who may fail around us. And most importantly, it's about the gift of books and learning. Shannon did an amazing job at reflecting these issues in all of the characters. It seemed each had their spotlight and for a middle grade book, I thought each character was well rounded with perfect arcs in this age group.

Overall, a sweet and superb MG book!

Profile Image for Faith M:).
135 reviews40 followers
October 7, 2019
Wow! This series is AMAZING!!!! You will love it the minute you start reading! Shannon Hale is a BEAUTIFUL writer!
Profile Image for Karis.
135 reviews51 followers
January 3, 2019
Sometimes you see a book around so much that you get a mental picture of it without ever reading the back blurb. That was me with this book; so, going into it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually loved it.

I think it was the beautiful world building that captured by heart. The small town mountain lifestyle and fierce togetherness of the people, yet how they’re willing in the end to listen to their own, grow, try new things, and better themselves. The concept of speak through the lindor—wow! And how tight a bond it forms among those in the quarry and later in the girls at the academy through Miri.

I love the father-daughter arc, the rules of diplomacy, the songs, and the lessons of friendships demonstrated. To say that this book with nothing like I expected would be a huge understatement. Instead of a cheesy, middle-grade book centered around a love triangle that I thought it would be, I found it to be the kind of book that makes you nostalgic for a home you never had, one in a mountain village like this in a fantasy land.

I know it’s a series, but I’m completely content to leave the story finished as it is and let my own imaginings fill in as much or little of the rest of the story that I want.

4 stars, and a serious contender for the Single-most-book-read-in-2018-that-I-wish-I’d-discovered-as-a-younger-kid Award
Profile Image for C.B. Cook.
Author 6 books198 followers
February 2, 2016
I read this all in one day, guys. Seriously. Okay, so I read twelve pages of it this morning... Also, is it already June??? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN???

The Good
-The characters. Oh my gravy, Peder. Can I just steal him? And Miri and Britta and Knut... Bascially, I just want to kidnap all the characters.
-The setting. Basically, the setting was just plain awesome. I WANNA MOVE TO MOUNT ESKEL.
-Linder/Quarry-speech. That was sooo awesome. From the blurb, I wasn't even expecting that. But then again, I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting...
-Plot continuity. Shannon Hale's pretty good at dropping early hints of plot twists without being too obvious. And yeah, I missed most of them, so I ended up with a ton of "Aha!" moments.

The Bad
-Surprises. This book actually did not surprise me all that much. I predicted pretty much everything.

The Ugly
Very little romance, more violence than anything else. Someone falls off a cliff.

So... I'm not sure if this book really intrigued me yesterday or if I just was procrastinating writing... I really enjoyed it though, I must say.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
11 reviews
September 22, 2008
I've been reading this to my 8.5 year old daughter at night before bed. She is eating it up - and I am too. In fact - I read ahead just to see what happens. . SHHHHHHHH.

Though the title is appropriate, I'm afraid that some people will not pick up this book because they think it is froofy and shallow. . 'Tis not. The protagonist is a real, rich character with an inner life and traits both admirable and unfortunate. The world she lives in is believable and complex economically and socially, and will be understood on many levels depending upon the sophistication of the reader.

It is a coming of age story - I believe that the main character is 15-ish. Issues of friendship, love, attraction, ambition, prejudice, and family loyalty loom large, and are treated with sensitivity and insight into the mind of an adolescent girl.

Put this book on your list of fast moving stories with strong, smart, resourceful and truly human female leads.

Profile Image for laurenpie.
404 reviews11 followers
November 11, 2016
Awkward prose

I couldn't get around the unseemly and awkward phrasing, so bad I couldn't enjoy the story. My impression is that the author is not well-read; her word-usage is just slightly off. The combination of bulky sentence structure and jarring words felt pretentious to me. The poetry, intended as quarry-work songs, was nauseatingly trite. Ech! Unfortunately, these aren't sporadic issues, they inundate the entire novel. Definitely could have used more editing.

You can imagine my surprise to find this is a Newberry Honor Book. Hmmm. Here's the first paragraph,
Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks in the house's stone walls.
Quite the inauspicious start. A few more random oddities:

For amusement she filled herself with impossible wishes--her ma alive again, boots no rock shard could poke through, honey instead of snow. To somehow be as useful to the village as her own pa.
Uh, in what dictionary are those agonized longings "amusement?" Is that the best descriptor she could come up with?

Even in a large group, Marda felt anxious standing alone.
What does that even mean?

"I call your ears to hearken the chief delegate of Danland."
Just, no.

Three stairs led to the main door and columns supporting a carved pediment.

Check out these quarry lyrics...
Chapter One:
The east says it's dawn
My mouth speaks a yawn
My bed clings to me and begs me to stay
I hear a work song
Say winter is long
I peel myself up and then make away
Chapter Four:
Tell my family to go ahead and eat
To make it borne I'd have to move my feet
But the mount's made stone where my feet numbered two
And I've swallowed more dust than I can chew

Almost painful to read. I had such high hopes from the from the appealing cover-art, so sweet! Alas, silly me, I know better than to judge a book by its cover.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
566 reviews3,927 followers
August 7, 2015


¡Menudo sorpresón! me ha ENCANTADO.
¡No os dejéis engañar por el horrible título!
He disfrutado de cada página, de ese tono suave y como de cuento de hadas que tiene, del alegato a favor de la educación, de las chicas rudas y de las inteligentes… En fin, una historia que a pesar de ser previsible me ha mantenido con la sonrisa en los labios durante sus 300 páginas.
¡Quiero más! :)
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,759 reviews1,218 followers
June 27, 2017
I found this to be a very pleasant story. I’m not exactly sure why some people hate it and a lot of people unreservedly adore it but I did enjoy it, a lot.

I loved the little poems at the start of each chapter; they gave such a good feel for this mountain community and its people. I was completely charmed by this culture and its people.

There is a very inspiring main protagonist and most of the characters were interesting. I really liked Miri (the main character) and her spunk and her ingenuity, especially regarding how she was motivated to use her educational opportunities and how she figured out how to communicate with her fellow students and villagers.

I think this tale says a lot about feeling like an outsider vs. feeling a sense of belonging, and also about what is important in life.

I didn’t really like a particular reveal toward the end because it seemed just a bit like cheating to me, but by the end I guess the way the plot evolved made sense to me and the story from beginning to end felt very satisfying.

I’d say that readers can enjoy this book from ages 9 or 10 and all the way up. I have this under speculative fiction and there is a fantasy element, but it’s so subtle that this could almost be considered general fiction or a kind of realistic full length fairy tale (what with the prince and princesses and an unique way of communicating available to the mountain people.)
Profile Image for Meli.
617 reviews398 followers
August 25, 2015
Imagínense algo como La selección, pero sin romance y bien escrito :)

No me mató, pero me gustó, toca temas un poco raros para un middle grade (¡economía? WTF), pero también tiene un lindo mensaje de amistad y ser uno mismo.

Profile Image for Katie Grace.
174 reviews6 followers
March 1, 2018
this will always be one of my favorite books. I've grown up rereading it multiple times, and it's such a cozy, fluffy story. <3
Profile Image for Ronyell.
955 reviews322 followers
February 10, 2018

When I read “Rapunzel’s Revenge” and “Calamity Jack,” I became more interested into Shannon Hale’s works and “Princess Academy” was certainly no exception! “Princess Academy” is a Newbery Honor Book from the imaginative mind of Shannon Hale and it is about a fourteen year old girl named Miri who is taken away from her family to be taught how to be a princess in a princess academy, while trying hard to accomplish the goal of being the academy princess. “Princess Academy” is truly one of the most brilliant fairy tale retellings ever created!

Never have I seen a book so well written since J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series and Shannon Hale has done a magnificent job at writing this book. Shannon Hale makes this book extremely exciting as the audience sees all the tough trials that each girl from Mount Eskel have to go through in order to become civilized princesses before the Prince arrives to the academy. Also, Shannon Hale has done a great job at making the story somewhat intense, especially when Olana at first treats the girls in a cruel manner and locks them up in a closet and also when Miri has to compete with Katar, another brilliant girl to be academy princess and many adults would love to see so much tension build up between the characters which makes the story exciting to read through. The character who stood out the most in this book is Miri herself as she is shown to be a strong and independent girl who would defy Olana’s rules of the academy in order to save the other girls’ lives. Miri shows the true power of a kind heart as she was willing to put everyone’s needs before her own and even being kind to her rival, Katar as Miri tries to understand the other girls’ problems and try to figure out a way to solve their problems. Miri is truly a great role model for women who want to stand up for what they believe is right and to always be kind to everyone, no matter if they are your enemies or friends.


“Princess Academy” is truly an inspiring story that teaches people how to stand up for what you believe is right and to just be yourself, even if you are put through training to become a proper princess! If anyone wants a book about princesses, adventure, romance, and fierce determination, then this is the book for you!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Profile Image for Liz F..
236 reviews42 followers
August 27, 2018
Yay! I liked this book!! :P

Things I liked...

-I thought the author did a wonderful job of including most of the (20) girls in all the dialogue and I felt I got to know them all fairly well! :) (I feel like I would be really bad at that though XDD)

-I liked Esa's character the most, I think! I liked Marda and Britta too though.

-And Peder. And Doter. I guess I just liked their whole family XD

-I appreciated that the bandit scene wasn't super cheesy or anything and that they didn't get away or that the villagers didn't beat them like the last round of bandits. I think that added to the story!

Things I didn't like...

-Though I liked Marda's character, I think she could have had a little more dialogue and action in the story. Though I guess she did

-I think Olana gave up a little too easy in some different things... maybe that's her weakness.

-In the first part of the book, I didn't really like Miri's Pa's chracter. A house with closed shutters describes him well!

- I felt like Miri's character went up and down and up and down. Like she cared about Peder and then she would love to be married to the prince and that was her biggest dream. She was very defensive in front of Olana, but meek at some points too. And other things like that. It just bugged me a little. But not enough to not enjoy the story ;)

All in all, I loved reading Princess Academy! My rating is 5 stars!
Profile Image for Faith Erin Hicks.
Author 90 books1,448 followers
March 7, 2017
I really liked this book! I was assuming it would be something ... well, maybe more "Disney" due to the title (not to knock Disney, love their animated movies), but instead it was a thoughtful and genuinely touching story of a brave kid dealing with societal obstacles and winning the day with kindness and resolve. Really enjoyed this.
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,763 reviews726 followers
November 9, 2022

Romance Related - 28 Incidents: A girl starts to have strange feelings for a boy she grew up with: "noticing things" "his tanned arm and the line between his brows." And "I wish that Peder and I-"
A boy and girl accidentally fall on the ground next to each other. She then has an impulse to kiss his cheek. This shocks her and she doesn't. Two girls like a boy and call to him to come watch the traders with them. Another girl is jealous. "I can't believe Peder thinks she's pretty." To this, the girl coughs because she likes him. Several girls are excited that Peder is at the school. "Her gut still felt hollow since seeing Peder." A girl misses a boy. A girl explains that children hold hands but when boys and girl are older and holding hands, it means something. A girl wonders about having to marry the prince, but what of Peder? "Brushing Peder's fingers as she turned in the dance."
Boys and girl dancing and laughing together and getting nervous. "Her insides feel like twisted vines ... his smile was worth trudging for." "She sat beside him ... careful not to let her leg touch his." A girl rubs a boy's curls. "But with Peder it [a kind of telepathy] became something intimate, like reaching for his hand, like looking into his eyes." A boy yanks a girl down beside him. "This time she was a little closer, the sides of their legs touching." A girl wonders if a boy watches her like she watches him. A boy touches a girls braid and comments on her hair. A boy says he thinks a girl is "just fine" and she says she thinks he's "wonderful." He kisses her cheek. A boy teases a girl about how he might have to tell how she once threw off her "clothes and ran out-" A girl thinks about wrestling a boy and realizes she is touching him. A friend then asks if she likes him. Dancing with the prince: "He held her left hand and turned her around twice. Her skirt brushed his legs. She imagined dancing this way with Peder - not separated by a ribbon, hands touching." A girl thinks about the time a boy sat next to her. A girl is torn between the prince and Peder. A boy and girl dance, "he pressed her fingers against her lower back." A girl explains how she's always loved the prince and longed to marry him. The prince kisses a girl's hand. A boy holds a girl's arm and they talk low with their heads close. A boy takes a girl's hand and starts stuttering, "I was wondering something else, if we, if you.." implying he wants to court and marry her.

Children's Bad Words
Mild Obscenities and Substitutions - 7 Incidents: stupid, shut up
Name Calling - 4 Incidents: stupid, Big dumb tight-lipped fool, idiot

Religious & Supernatural - 7 Incidents: "A slight against the god who made it," referring to a flower. "This past summer, the priests of the creator god took council on the birthday of the prince. They read the omens and divined the home of his future bride." "After days of fasting and supplication, the priests perform a rite to divine ..." "Its ancient wood door carved with the story of the creator god first speaking to people." Mentions creator god. Mentions priests. "Why didn't the priests divine your own town Lonway...?"

Violence - None

Attitudes/Disobedience - 1 Incident: A woman had lied to the students, saying if they were chosen by the prince, their family would live in a splendid house.

Conversation Topics - 1 Incident: A girl lies to the bandits to try to save the other girls from being killed. Another girl lies and then another to try to confuse the bandits.

Parent Takeaway
This is a romance. The main girl has many feelings for a certain boy and often thinks on these and evaluates the impulses she has towards him. There is even a slight "love triangle" as she likes Peder and the thought of him, but also the possibility of marrying the prince. Strong character traits are exhibited for bravery, responsibility, family loyalty and forgiveness.

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Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,592 reviews3,470 followers
September 11, 2017
I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard about this book.

A lot. Let’s just say a lot.

Between one of the sweet girls I babysit raving about it and the nearly 90 friends here on Goodreads that have shelved this book, I’ve known about this series for a while.

Since I have read Shannon Hale’s Ever After High books and liked those decently well, I went ahead and got this trilogy.

Opinion Time: I have to say, this first book was cute.

There were three main thoughts I had while reading this bestseller: (1) “….so it’s like a mini version of The Bachelorette…?” (2) “Why does this feel like a young Ally Carter book?” and (3) “I still don’t understand what this quarry-speech stuff is.” {Like telepathy, but not? There are sometimes the mountain is made out to be actually alive…like the Disney-Pocahontas nature-is-alive style. (*cough* Listen With Your Heart 1 *cough*)}

Also have to add: Miri’s last name is Larendaughter, because her father’s name is Laren and she’s his daughter. I’m blaming sleep deprivation on why I was laughing so hard at that.

The ending is a bit coincidental, but I truly liked the family and friends message of the plot. I wouldn’t say I was impressed by the writing or plot, but I can see why so many have enjoyed it and plan to read the next two books.

-Nearly Many Mentions of priests/ministers of a creator god; Mentions of chapels & going; A few mentions of praying.
-Pain, palm lashing, & being pinched (up to semi-detailed); Being held hostage by bandits, being tied-up/gagged, threats of being killed, & pain (semi-detailed); Some eye rolling; Gossip & talking about/thinking of other girls negatively; Mentions of palm lashing, being hit, & cruel punishments; Mentions of accidents, injuries, & blood/bleeding (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of bandits, attacks, being tied-up/gagged, being whipped, injuries, & pain; Mentions of thieves & murders; Mentions of the possibilities of deaths & killing; Mentions of threats & a threat to Miri about slitting her throat; Mentions of gossip & mean comments; Mentions of jealousy; Mentions of lies, lying, & liars; Mentions of slaughtering animals & their blood (barely-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of icky animals causing grossness or one that caused an infant’s death; A few mentions of cheating; A few mentions of throwing up & vomit; A couple mentions of wars & assassinations; A couple mentions of crimes & criminals; A couple mentions of gas; A mention of a boy who killed a bird; A few mentions of curses (said, not written); Up to quite a few ‘stupid’s, ‘idiot’s, ‘dumb’s, and ‘shut up’s.
-Two cheek kisses; Touches, Dancing, Hand Holding, & Nearness (barely-above-not-detailed); Blushes; A bit of noticing; Some talks about boys & crushes; Mentions of noticing, nearness, touches, blushes, & the effects on Miri (barely-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of young girls being in love with someone for years; A few mentions of blushes; A couple mentions of jealousy; A mention of a hand kiss; Mentions of Miri’s mother who died shortly after she gave birth to Miri & a different mother dying in labor as well.
371 reviews58 followers
November 25, 2008
I think this may be my favorite Shannon Hale book.

The writing style is very much like her other YA books (Goose Girl, Enna Burning, & River Secrets). Also it shares the "speaking" theme.

What I love most about Princess Academy is the growth the characters experience. Miri began as a scrawny quarry girl who didn't know her place in the world. She developed into a brave, intellegent girl who knows her heart. The road of growth is deep in plot and emotion which makes of a very meaningful and touching read.

Lovely. Shannon Hale is a master of fantasy.
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