Monday, September 17, 2012
Palace of Stone
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.
My Rating: *****
Oh wow. At the risk of sounding cliche I just have to tell you that this was everything I wanted it to be and more.
THIS is Shannon Hale's genre. Her YA fantasy novels are where she shines. I gave Midnight in Austenland five stars, and I really did love it, but Palace of Stone was beyond love for me. Sheer devotion.
Sorry. I'll stop trying to be poetic.
First, let me say that if you have read Shannon Hale then you know her gorgeous writing style. Palace of Stone does not disappoint. Every word is obviously chosen with care. Shannon is a true wordsmith.
And I loved being back in Miri's world so much! Miri herself is a wonder and her adventures in the capital are thrilling. Everything is more in this book. More excitement, more romance, more thrills and danger, even quarry-speech is taken to a whole new level.
Palace of Stone doesn't have that soft, subtle, quietness that Princess Academy has, and I liked it better for it. That said, I would be surprised if it won the Newbery because it doesn't have that same quiet Newbery flavor that Princess Academy had. Which is a shame.
So delightful! I was completely engrossed, and my husband was awesome and let me have a reading day so I got to read it all in almost one sitting. It was perfect.
I loved that Miri was caught in between right and wrong. It was so realistic the way she tried to do the right thing but often found herself getting deeper and deeper into messes. Miri is so brave and so young and the plot is so twisted up and desperate at one point and I loved watching her learn and figure things out and embrace the consequences of her actions, both good and bad. Am I making sense? I'm probably rambling. Sorry!
There were so many little touches that I thought Shannon Hale did particularly well. I liked how well the first book carried over, continuing to develop the plots of some of my favorite characters, particularly Britta (who faces some serious consequences from her actions in the first book - that surprised me!), but also Frid and Esa and Lana and Peder and more. Plus! New characters! Shannon Hale balanced them all with ease and flair. Oh she has talent. I also liked random things like the Queen's Castle University and how a particular painting is different to Miri each time she looks at it, depending on what's going on in the book.
I could go on and on, but I'll just leave it with this: READ Palace of Stone!!!
Recommended for Shannon Hale fans and fans of any gorgeously written fantasy adventure.