Review: Princess Academy (Princess Academy, #1) by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
Publication Date: April 17th 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Point of View: 3rd Person & Female
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Prince & Princess, Education, Fantasy, Magic, Love, Family, Friendship


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.


If only…If only my eleven-year-old younger self had read this book. I know she would’ve shrieked with happiness at holding Princess Academy against her innocent little heart. Miri and younger Lola might’ve shared a stronger and more vivid level of connection and this latter probably would’ve eagerly pressed five stars as rating. (Well, it certainly isn’t every day that I refer to myself in the 3rd person.)

But I’m not eleven anymore, and, even if I enjoy some middle grade and younger reads from time to time, I will never feel the same way when reading them as I feel toward Young Adult novels, my favorite genre. Why I do still read these books aimed to children is for the fluffiness, cuteness and fairytale omnipresent ambience that takes you to another dimension, one of dreams and endless possibilities. Something I can rarely find in YA novels.

And this happened to be a good example of a book giving me this opportunity. I mean, princess stories, if they are of your taste, are wonderful to plunge into and read. Miri as a heroine lacked maturity though. I don’t know if it is my own fault thinking that, since we obviously are not same age (she is fourteen) but she spoke without thinking oh so many times…which equalled trouble, or in this context hand lashing and uncountable hours in the closet next to a rat. I kept muttering for her to stop bluntly bursting out words and felt exasperated when she did so anyway, but that’s the thing with MG novels: You can’t one hundred percent blame the young characters, since it’s normal for them, due to their age, to make mistakes and it’s usually in purpose for a character growth, which we very much could observe in this story.

I’ve read three Shannon Hale books so far – The Storybook of Legends, The Goose Girl, Austenland – and I realized that her style varies depending of the genre and type of book she is writing. Probably, if you enjoyed the first two, you will feel the same for Princess Academy. But if you’ve only read Austenland, then you will find that this book is written differently (with reason and a ‘thank god’ muttered because Austenland was just a poorly written and confusing book; I couldn’t even finish it. But the movie was enjoyable – recommended!)

The romance lovely presented istelf. I’m rarely into situations in which a character is in love with her/his best friend but the author managed to make this one not sound cliché or annoyingly cheesy. They were good together and the chemistry evident!

This is not a book for everyone but it was short and sweet and actually not that predictable. Sure, many situations made it easy for us to foresee their outcome, but some others contained plenty of surprises. What I loved most about this book was the lyrical writing and relationship between Miri and Britta, whom she misjudged quite too quickly, and her own sister, Marda. Incidentally, it was good to see original names for the characters.

Beautiful art source!



20 thoughts on “Review: Princess Academy (Princess Academy, #1) by Shannon Hale

  1. I hadn’t heard of this author before or this series and while i’m not sure this ones for me i’m loving that it was a non predictable read for you and that you loved it.


  2. Yes sometimes it’s nice to have a good middle grade book, it’s different and interesting even if it’s not often as good as it would have been if you had read it while younger.I didn’t know about this one but I’m curious. thanks!


  3. Girl I wish I could turn back time and be my younger self and just keep this knowledge of English I have now. You have no idea how much I missed just because of language barrier. I wish I could change that, but maybe I’ll change it for my kids 😉 Amazing review, Lola 🙂


  4. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by this author, but I’ve seen Austenland at least. I’m not a typical MG reader either, but I can appreciate one from time to time. Princess Academy sounds like fun. And I can see why Miri can be frustrating. Reminds me of m 14-yr-old, to be honest. Lol.


  5. I’ve never heard about Shannon Hale to be honest but I do enjoy reading Middle Grade a lot because even though it’s true I’m not that young anymore sometimes I connect with the characters rather quickly. You see, I know how kids think. I think is one of the consequences of studying psychology; and since I know how the mind of children works is easier for me to appreciate the story, you know? And some MG books are definitely written to be enjoyed by all readers, which is something rather amazing in my opinion LOL


  6. Myesh, I often feel the same way upon reading MG. I WISH I had read this when I was a tween because I would have loved the crap out of this then! Thankfully, I find I can still enjoy MG even now, even if it doesn’t leave quite as much of an impression on me as it would have if I were younger. I’ve never read any of Shannon Hale’s books, but I really want to try them sometime!


  7. This one sounds really sweet 🙂 I don’t read a lot of MG either, but I occasionally revisit books I have read previously and it’s just like visiting an old friend, even if I do feel a bit too old for it!


  8. It’s cool that you were still able to appreciate this story, but I totally understand your comment about your eleven year old self. The pretty artwork is a nice bonus, and predictability aside, the relationships between the characters, and the author’s lyrical writing style are pretty good pros.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads


  9. Lol, I’m sure my eleven-year-old would have loved this story, too. Princess, prince, fairytale, magic…what isn’t there to love? Unfortunately, my twenty-year-old self is way too critical, can’t stand brash, fool-mouthed heroine and would roll her eyes at the prospect of reading a book about a finishing school for soon-to-be-princess. So, I’ll pass, lol.


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