Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Published: 2005

Genre: middle grade fantasy

Length: 336 pages

Setting: Mount Eskel, pre-industrial time period

Interest: It was recommended to me based on my book taste by the Modern Mrs. Darcy (here’s the post that explains her picks for me). I picked it up as an audio book for Miss Adventure and I to listen to as we drove 3 1/2 hours to her first gymnastics meet.

Summary: The villagers on Mount Eskel have always managed to survive based on trading for linder blocks. One fall, a representative from the King shows up and informs the village that the priests have determined the next Princess will come from Mount Eskel. All girls of the appropriate age were to attend the Princess Academy until spring, when the Prince would choose his Princess. Tutor Olana is in charge of the school and makes the girls’ lives miserable. Miri, the narrator, is continually plotting to get around Olana’s rules. She’s able to figure out how quarry-speech works to send messages long distance, including everything from test answers to a message to the villagers that the girls were kidnapped by bandits.

Final thoughts: Miss Adventure and I both enjoyed this coming-of-age story. Miri had a hard time finding her place in the village. Her father wouldn’t let her work in the quarry with everyone else, so she felt left out and useless. It was only after Miri starting teaching what she had learned at the Academy to the other villagers that she felt she had earned her place. She also found out she wasn’t the only one who wished for a different role in their village. Because it’s a kids book, I was able to figure out several of the plot points ahead of time (the secret of quarry speech, what Miri would do with her life), but I still enjoyed the book. I did not figure out who the Prince would choose as his Princess. My choice kept changing as the story went on. I’m not sure I liked it enough to read the others in the series, but perhaps Miss Adventure will read them.

As an aside, the audio version we listened to had a full cast instead of a single narrator. I will admit it took a bit of time to get used to the voice changes, but it was nice being able to tell who was saying what.

Title comes from: The school the girls attended was called the Princess Academy, since it was teaching them everything they needed to know to be a Princess.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None since I listened to this as an audiobook.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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