Princess Academy by Shannon Hale was one of the first books that got me hooked into YA and MG fiction and it is still one of my favorites ever. So you couldn’t believe how excited I was to find out that there was going to be a sequel! Yay! More Miri!! Kyle over at A Reader’s Pensieve was so nice (as usual!) and loaned me her copy of the ARC of Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale! THANK YOU Kyle!! Now, ideally I would have had time to read it before the release, but life happens.
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding.There, Miri also has a chance to attend school-at the Queen’s Castle. But as Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place. Picking up where “Princess Academy” left off, and celebrating the joys of friendship, romance and the fate of fairy tale kingdoms, this new book delivers the completely delightful new story that fans have been waiting for.
Shannon Hale never lets me down. However, readers need to know that Palace of Stone is a very different book from Princess Academy. Things in book one were more innocent and more fairy tale-like, but thats what happens when one gets older: You grow, you learn new things, your eyes are open to differences etc… With Miri’s first trip away from Mount Eskel into the busy and sophisticated culture of Asland, Miri begins to see the world anew. As her eyes are opened to new ideas and new ways of living Miri becomes caught between simplicity and complexity.
Miri is just as she always was bright, brave and a little out spoken but in this book we see her grappling with far more serious issues (revolution!) than she dealt with in the first part of her story. She makes some mistakes, but pushes through to do what is right. I love Miri and would be totally fine is Shannon Hale gave us even more Miri! I enjoyed the little love triangle between Miri, Peder and Timon because it does actually move the story along. Miri’s relationship with Timon is what allows Miri to see things differently in the first place.
I will say that the world building in Palace of Stone isn’t as good as in Princess Academy. Of course authors would do most of that in their first book, but in this one we have Miri traveling to Asland, a city Miri has never been before, and I felt like I didn’t really get to know the city at all. It seemed like Asland was just a backdrop for the action to take place and it really could have been any city. Additionally, I felt like the supporting characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been (like they’d been in the first book). I only got to see Miri, and maybe a little bit of Britta, as multi-dimensional characters, but I would have liked to see more life in the others.
So, yeah, I had a few small complaints, but overall I really enjoyed Palace of Stone and think that it was an interesting continuation to Miri’s story. I’d honestly like to know what happens next for Miri and Peder, but I can’t get my hopes up for a third Princess Academy novel! ;p I do, of course, recommend this series to any middle grade reader looking for a good read!