By: Shannon Hale
Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: August 21st, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review/signed ARC from TLA
5 stars: I LOVED It
Series: Princess Academy #2
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself 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. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom -quoted from Goodreads
Shannon Hale does a fabulous at creating a whole new story line for her Princess Academy books. She re-introduces readers to characters I fell in love with, with Princess Academy, and introduces them to a whole new set of characters, dangers, and adventures. I really enjoyed jumping back into Miri's world. Though it has been awhile since I have read Princess Academy, I didn't feel lost at all with all that was happening, and who each of the older characters were. I felt like the each of the characters grew up a bit more in this book. There's a sweet, innocent romance, shocking secrets, betrayal, and the Kingdom of Ashland is facing a revolution. A lot of things happen in this book and I enjoyed every moment of it!
Character wise I really enjoyed reading about Miri, her adventures, mishaps and all that she encounters in this book. I felt like Shannon really allowed me to understand her character in this book as she tries to find her place in her world. From being fierce and protective, to be brilliant and educated, and speaking her mind when she needed to, Miri was a character I came to admire a lot more in this book. There were times she was also incredibly naive, but it was so fitting for all that was going on in her story for her to be like that. Everything she experienced and all she does made sense to me. There's a lot she learns as she tries to figure out what's right, and wrong, doing what needs to be done vs following her heart. I admire her courage and love her quest for reading and learning. She's a smart girl who yearns to be educated in the ways of all that's going on around her. I liked how her love for reading, and understanding the history of Ashland's people plays a huge role in something that happens in this story, as does her embracing who she is and where she comes from.
I love the friendship that she and Britta continue to have, as well as that of Prince Steffan. I adore Peder, but I wish he was a little bit stronger of a character. I felt like Miri is very much the dominate one in their relationship, though there's nothing wrong with that. The new character Timon and his relationship with Miri turned out just how I expected it to, and I liked what his character brought to the story line in the beginning, and all that he challenged Miri to think and feel. There's a few other characters I enjoyed getting to know and understand a bit better as the story went on, and the roles they played in the book. Miri by far is my favorite out of each of the characters we get to read about it in this book.
The story is fabulous! I love this type of setting, and the feel it adds to the book. The over all storyline is wonderful. I absolutely love Shannon Hale's writing and her ability to not just tell a story, but bring it to life like she does. Her stories are always richly detailed without going over board, innocent, clean cut, and always have these well developed heroines that I completely adore, and fall in love with. Shannon's books are just as engaging and exciting for middle grade readers as they are for adult readers. She knows how to mix age appropriate romance with action, and stay true to the time period her books are set in. I loved Palace of Stone and definitely recommend picking this one up!