Shannon Hale is a master storyteller. Seriously, she is one of my all time favorite writers, especially of fantasy, for the simple reason that the books she writes have this magic about them. I fall in love with the characters and the worlds they come from, which doesn't seem to happen a lot for me when it comes to fantasy books. Miri in Princess Academy was no exception and I found myself enchanted by her life on Mount Eskel, her innocence, and the beautiful friendships she forms with some of the other girls.
As a Mount Eskel girl, Miri is expected to be strong and hardworking, heading into the quarry to work as all kids do once they reach a certain age. Instead, Miri's father refuses to let her work, saying she's too small and would be of better use in the house. Feeling inadequate and constantly left out, Miri knows she's an outsider because of this, but isn't sure how she can include herself among the other kids when her father refuses to allow her in the quarry.
When word comes that a Princess Academy will be held near Mount Eskel and all girls are required to attend, Miri is intrigued (and more than a bit frightened). Even more intriguing is the idea that the Prince will choose one of the girls from the Academy to become his future wife! Miri knows that she just may have found a chance to excel at something and prove to her village she is a strong girl...but once she does catch the Prince's eye, she's not so sure she wants to be the Princess after all.
Such a beautifully told story! I listened to this one and like the Books of Bayern series, it's full-cast audio. SO awesome. I've been spoiled by these Hale books on audio and whenever I pick up one that's just a single reader, I have a twinge of disappointment! The readers did a wonderful job at conveying the emotions of the characters and bringing together the multilayers of story.
I loved falling into Miri's world and her family and friendships. If you've never read a Shannon Hale book, I highly recommend picking this one up, reading it to yourself and then to your kids, and passing it on. They're to be shared and loved and read aloud. Even if you aren't a "fairy tale" reader, you'll love the tales woven by Hale and will finish them with a smile on your face.
Just a note...I borrowed the audiobook from the library, but immediately purchased the book for myself as soon as I finished listening to it. Loved it that much!
April 2007 (paperback version)
Book was borrowed from my local library