Ah, there’s nothing like a good story. And this book, by Shannon Hale, is a good story. So good, in fact, that I devoured it in a few hours. Either it was really good, or I was starved for a good story. Then M picked it up, took it to her room, and emerged the next afternoon, saying (her only criticism): “It needs an Epilogue. Otherwise it’s perfect.” I’d have to agree.
It’s a simple story: the kingdom of Danland has a tradtion. On the prince’s 18th birthday, the priests of the creator god cast about for the name of the town where the prince’s bride will be. They then set up a Princess Academy, to “educate” the local girls in the way of being a princess (though, we’re told, it’s usually a formality; not so this time). The prince, at the end of the academy’s term, visits and chooses his bride. This time, the bride is supposed to be in Mt. Eskel, where Miri (a 14-year-old — my only complaint: what’s with 14 year olds getting married?) lives in a little village with her family. The profession of the village is quarrying linder, a precious stone, but Miri, because of her size (she’s overly small for her age), isn’t allowed to help. So, when the academy comes to town, Miri sees a chance to do something.
Yeah, I suppose some of it is predictable (though the prince’s choice for a bride is a surprise). Yeah, I guess it’s a tale that’s been told many times before. But Hale is such an engaging storyteller. And Miri is a worthy heroine. And, well, dang it, I liked it. A lot. If anything, it’s a great girl book. And I like those.