Steve Streza's Reviews > Pennyroyal Academy

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
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really liked it

This review contains a couple minor world spoilers, and is based on a prerelease galley which may have been edited by the final release.

Pennyroyal Academy is unlike any book about princesses, witches, and dragons that I have ever read. It paints a tale of princesses not being the dainty damsels in distress that have long been the trope of fantasy, but of strong and empowered warriors who protect the land. Much in the way stories like Artemis Fowl have redefined classical fantasy ideas in a more contemporary mindset, Pennyroyal puts women front-and-center, a fantastic choice for a novel released during a modern revival of feminism. The lead character, Evie, reminded me quite a bit of the titular character from Ender's Game; she is strong but not arrogant, often doesn't realize her own potential, and feels isolated from her upbringing. And as with any coming-of-age tale, she is a flawed character who will be developed as she learns what it takes to become a princess.

The novel itself suffers from a few minor structural problems. At times, the writing goes into great detail, and at others glosses over long periods of time; inconsistencies in pacing were a cause of "wait, how much time just passed?" double takes. I found myself on several occasions backtracking in the book to remind myself of certain key elements of the plot, such as the big reveal of Evie's backstory. Side characters didn't quite get as complete a development I would've hoped. And it wasn't always the easiest to understand the scale of everything in this world.

But the world and the story themselves are beautifully crafted. Chapters are rich with detail, characters speak with clear and consistent voice, and scenes are vividly depicted. I found myself getting absorbed into the world with remarkable ease, missing train stops on two separate occasions while reading. If you're someone with an active imagination, this book is for you. The story is fantastic, the action is fast-paced and captivating, and the ending is a great payoff.

All in all, this is a great novel and a super fun read. It had a few technical issues that were apparent while reading, but at worst these were annoyances, and didn't impede my desire to finish the novel. I'm looking forward to the second book taking place in this world. I'd highly recommend this book for grades 5-7 of all genders, and for adults who want a reminder of the fun of reading with your imagination.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 21, 2014 – Finished Reading
October 6, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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message 1: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Your review has convinced me that this book is ideal for the personality of my daughter but because of some of the flaws in the writing development, I may need to read it with her since she has issues with focus and detail. Thank you!


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