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In the original Princess Academy, young Miri, along with the rest of the teen girls in her mountain village, is brought to the isolated location where the Princess Academy has been established. The Academy is charged with turning the mountain girls into suitable marriage choices for the prince. While this may sound like the premise of a charm school, it’s actually a story about inner strength, class struggle between nobility and peasants, and the important role education plays in society.

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone is the sequel. The prince and his soon-to-be princess, Britta, are about to be married in the royal city of Asland. Miri and her friends have been invited to spend a year helping Britta prepare for the wedding, and Miri has been invited to study at Queen’s College.

However, a revolution is beginning, and Miri may have to choose between her friend’s best interests and the interests of the people at large. There are no easy answers for Miri. Hale continues her string of strong, young female protagonists, and she manages to mix in a touch of fantasy, a lesson on ethics, and the basics of violent versus non-violent protest. While there is a certain mystical aspect in her novels for young readers, the well-developed characters, complex conflicts, and strong storylines are the biggest draw of her novels. (Bloomsbury)

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