Author: Shannon Hale
Publish date: 2007
"Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates." (Goodreads)
After reading The Goose Girl and Austenland (and its sequel), I've decided that I prefer Shannon Hale's fantasy/fairy tales to her more contemporary stuff. I loved The Goose Girl and after Christina recommended Princess Academy, I knew I had to read it. I bought it used for pretty cheap and loved it, as expected.
This was such a fun book! I seriously really enjoyed reading it and was sad when it ended, although I know the sequel is out now, Palace of Stone. I liked Miri a lot as a character and loved (and sympathized) with how overprotective her dad was. I also LOVED, of course, that much of the book's focus was on the value of education. Yay school and learning and bettering yourself! (said the teacher...)
A huge reason I liked Princess Academy was because the setting was a character in itself. I loved the mountain setting in general and the role that it plays in the story. I don't want to say too much and give it away, but this is one of the best examples of setting as a character I've seen. I'll definitely be recommending this to my students this year!