Elizabeth McDonald's Reviews > Princess Academy

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
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's review
Sep 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, childrens, fantasy

I must admit, the word "Princess" in the title of this book made me hesitate. Princesses get a bit too much press in girls'* literature these days, in my opinion. I'm glad I overcame my hesitation. Frilly dresses were at a minimum, and the female lead was an independent, spunky, and altogether admirable character. Another thing I really enjoyed was how Hale crafted an entire world for her characters to dwell in, and how that world was not simply the standard fairy-tale "far, far away" with castles and white horses.

Miri's family, like all the families in her mountain village, works in the quarry yearlong to scrape out a subsistence. Then one day a royal messenger rides into town with the announcement that the time has come for the prince to marry - and the king's priests have prophesied that the future bride should come from Miri's village. All the young women of the village, Miri included, are to attend a newly-established academy to learn the skills a princess would need, and after a year, the prince will come select his bride.

This audio version included a lovely musical touch: each chapter begins with an excerpt from a "traditional" song from the mountain village, which in the audiobook was both sung and accompanied.

*I would optimistically say "children's," but things such as The Princess Diaries are obviously not targeted at boys, and I frankly hope they're not reading it. For that matter, I wish girls weren't either. But since that's not the book I'm reviewing, I'll stop ranting.

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