Author: Shannon Hale
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
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.
Princess Academy, for me, is one of those timeless reads, a go-to when I'm in a reading rut, regardless of how old I'd gotten. I was perfectly happy with the way Princess Academy ended--I thought it was quite perfect and didn't need a sequel. To be honest, I was pretty scared about reading Palace of Stone because when you have that one amazing book, you don't want its memory to be tarnished by a sequel of a lesser caliber.
When I first saw Miri becoming enchanted with the innovation of the capitol and joining the revolution, I wanted to jump up and shout, "No, Miri! Back to Mount Eskel with you! Stay away from all this political turmoil!" and then I would have thrown her over my shoulder and taken her back to the mountain myself...
I did not want one of my favorite characters was changing into someone I didn't recognize, and I feared that the revolution fervor would change preexisting relationship dynamics...Don't tell me you didn't make a horrified gasp at the phrase "Miri finds herself torn...between an old love and a new crush."
For a good chunk of this book, I worried that I would not like it as much as I had hoped....
...And now we come to the part of the review where I reassure you that yes, Shannon Hale has once again worked magic with her words and created a sequel just as wonderful as the first book. (Hehe, I had you worried there for a second, didn't I?)
It wasn't until about midway through that I fully realized Hale had me utterly captivated with her story. Her diction is still just as beautiful, almost lyrical in a way, and I was taken back to a world of fresh mountain air and endless blue skies. Yet despite Hale's effortlessly gorgeous writing, she captures the spirit of revolution perfectly. There is life and energy and excitement flowing from the pages!
And I cannot gush enough about her characters! Despite my initial apprehension, I enjoyed watching each character grow while still retaining the very essence of themselves that made me love them in the first place. Miri has and always will be one of my favorite characters and despite my qualms, she is still the smart but stubborn girl, albeit even more awesome in this book!
Rating: 4.5 stars*
All in all: Very rarely do readers get a sequel that is just as good, if not better, than the debut, but Shannon Hale has broken free of that mold as only the truly excellent authors to do. She broke through all of my walls of caution and wariness and has touched me with her story in a way that I feared she wouldn't be able to.
*I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.