Sunday, August 12, 2012

Palace of Stone (review)

4.5/5 stars

To me, Shannon Hale's books always feel like fairytales.  They aren't re-tellings or remakes, but stories in their own right.  They are deceptively simple and surprisingly deep.  Palace of Stone is no exception.  I was a little nervous.  The Princess Academy was so wonderfully perfect that I wasn't sure how she could continue the story.

But Hale did something smart.  She waited before writing a sequel, not just immediately writing her first idea but letting the story of Miri grow.  She waited for the right story and you can tell that this is not some hastily thrown together sequel, but a fully realized novel of it's own.

In this sequel we find Miri and the academy girls spending a year in Asland to help prepare Britta for her wedding.  They're surprised to discover that all is not perfect in Danland, but there's poverty and starvation everywhere.

But even more important than that, there are whispers of revolution.  Miri, while attending Queen's Castles to become a scholar, meets some of the would-be revolutionaries.  She discovers that she agrees with a lot of their ideas like equality and representation for commoners, but finds herself stuck between her princess best friend and the growing discontentment of the poor.

The Miri of Palace of Stone is more grown-up than the Miri of Princess Academy, but she's just as charming.  She studies ethics and rhetoric, then makes goat jokes with the others from Mount Eskel.  She's still the same Miri, but discovering more about herself and Asland.

This is a worthy sequel to Princess Academy.  The book is sweet, even while dealing with the threats of revolution and assassination, it maintains the fairytale like quality that we've come to expect from Shannon Hale books.

An advance reading copy was provide by the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.


Catie said...

Great review Cassi. I've been wondering about this one a lot, because I read Princess Academy quite a few years ago and while I really liked it at the time, I've wondered if I would still like it now. This one sounds great though - very sweet (like all of her books) but with some depth thrown in there too. I have a collection of her books for my girls and I'll probably have to get this one too. Is her friend from the first book - the goat boy - in this one too?

Cassi Haggard said...

I wasn't sure if I'd remember Princess Academy enough. But the story seemed to stand well enough on it's own that what I didn't need to remember everything.

Yep goat boy is in this one!

C.J. said...

I haven't read Princess Academy, but I want to now! I love a good high fantasy and this one sounds so light and magical. Nice review!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful review, Cassi! <3 Writing reviews for Shannon has always intimidated me because I'm never sure if I'll do her books justice >_< I think you really hit the spot with this one, and this is the first review I've read of this book so I'm SO happy that it turned out so well. Fantastic review!!! <3 Off to buy my copy!

Sue @ Kid Lit Reviews. said...

Hi, I am returning the Friday-Follow favor and followed by email and you Google Groups Join button.

I have not read any of your reviews prior to today. If all your reviews are as good and as thorough and the Paalace pf Stone review, you are doing a tremendous job with young adult books.

Do you ever write a negative review or do you not write a review if the book review cannot be a positive one?

I no longer review YA but am still interested in those books. I will be back to get my YA opinions from you. Your site is a nice "find." :-)

Sue - Kid Lit Reviews

veela-valoom said...

Vivian: There are some authors that are so hard to write reviews for. Sometimes it's also really nerve-wracking to read a book by an author you love for review before many people have. It's like "I love them but WHAT IF..." thankfully Shannon Hale delivers.

Suzanne: Glad you like it! I do write negative reviews. I just try to be fair & honest. There are lots of books that what bothers me won't bother other people, so if you say where it went wrong for you it might be something that they're okay with.