Tuesday, August 6, 2013

All Hale the Princess Books

Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
The "Not So Grimm" post, headed with The Goose Girl adaptation, featured four novels penned by the same master storyteller as this pair.  I cannot believe how far I have come in my views about books I would enjoy.  I can and will judge a book by its title.  I can think of fewer titles that would hold less appeal for me than those with "princess" somewhere in there (save those that sound vulgar or offensive).  A book about princesses?  Really?  Sounds like something I would steer clear of.  But had I, I would have missed out.  If you find a similar natural aversion to this title, imagine it is called "Quarry born," and give it a chance;
  • This book transports you to a rich and magical place, acquaints you with hard-working mountain culture, is poetic without slowing down too long, and has depth, humour and grit!  
  • It is beautifully written.
  • It has a steady and amusing build to its climax, masterfully amplified upon being reached by everything proceeding it contributing greater meaning to the moment.  So well planned!
  • Although there are mild romantic interests and a touch of violence, it is very, very tame, and I would say these are more suitable for younger readers than the other four (equally excellent) Hale books, if you wish to avoid war and killing.  Overall though, Hale is tasteful, but if we're picking a starting place...
  • After I finished reading it, I was still thinking the next day about how well it played out.
  • The character development is so strong. 
  • I did take a little more time to become engrossed in this than The Goose Girl -- which was an immediate love.
Palace of Stone, Shannon Hale 
Isn't it unfortunate that this cover bears the dreaded "princess" and an illustration that only reinforces the idea you're in for some kind of tale surrounding the foibles of court?  I think so.  Because while it's pretty (and it may appeal to many young readers), I would have preferred an edition to match the cover I've chosen for the first book, above.  Anyway, the story is more than flowers in the hair, so much more!
  • While things seemed to happen fairly quickly, I took a while to look forward to reading it.
  • The story features letters between characters, and these were surprisingly great (the narrative is better for having them).
  • The poetry and depth of the culture created astounds me.
  • The strong metaphors and similes from the first book continue.
  • There is a sense of wholeness to story.
  • Interactions feel authentic, and I can clearly picture conversational scenes, not just hear them. 
  • It offers a brave and admirable heroine for young female readers.
  • It also contains an excellent allegory and springboard for discussion of choices and consequences with a daughter.  
  • I love Shannon Hale's writing style.
  • Bonus: some of the proceeds from purchasing the book go to humanitarian aid.
  • I was on a high after finishing this.
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