Review | Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)Book Description (from the cover):
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 Review:
I read this right after re-reading The Princess Academy and I think that definitely had an impact on my impressions of Palace of Stone. I did like Palace of Stone, but there were some things about it that I wasn’t crazy about. What I liked about The Princess Academy was that it was fun and creative and despite the conflict in it, it was lighthearted in a good way. Palace of Stone felt heavy. I believe Hale used the French Revolution as some of her inspiration for the book. It’s possible that the timing of my read was just bad: with us nearing the end of a very loud and rude political cycle. This book was all about politics, social classes, a country divided, the need for ‘change’, blah, blah, it’s all there. I usually go to my early adolescent literature for an escape and Palace of Stone did not provide that.

I think that the audience for this book is those who have grown since first reading Princess Academy. I would definitely recommend Princess Academy to a young tween, but Palace of Stone seemed for an older, more sophisticated audience.

My biggest problem with the story was how Miri and Peder’s relationship was resolved, and with who Peder was as a character. He was not the same strong character that he was in Princess Academy. I don’t want to spoil, so all I’ll say, is that for an author who is always talking about the lack of strong female characters in children’s lit, the resolution made Miri seem weak to me. It had hints of modern feminism all over it and I believe some aspects of feminism have caused women to have less power over men than more.

Hale did expand the story line about the Mount Eskel stone linder, its powers, and quarry-speak, which I liked. I actually would have really enjoyed her going into that fantasy aspect a lot more. Hale could possibly add another story to this set. She certainly left the door open for as much. If she does, I hope she follows the fantasy story line more than the political one.

Have you read both Princess Academy and Palace of Stone? I’d love to know what you thought about Hale’s Palace and how you think it compares with Academy.