I’m convinced that Shannon Hale’s books come imbued with a powerful charm spell. I see a new one on the table. I pick it up, thinking I’ll read the inside cover and maybe chapter one. Several hours later, family members have fed themselves, husband has put baby to bed, I know I’m going to be very tired at work the next day…but Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters is read. And what a thoroughly interwoven and entertaining journey it was.
The third book of the Princess Academy trilogy picks up with Miri and company finally starting their journey back to Mount Eskel, where Miri and Peder intend to become properly betrothed. Complications ensue when the king and queen of Danland have a special mission for Miri. Stora has attacked the neighboring port of Eris.
Hoping to spare Danland a similar fate, the king and queen are arranging marriage between Stora’s king and one of three royal cousins. Another complication: none of the three are remotely prepared for royal life. Miri is asked to prepare them.
Given one very compelling reason, Miri reluctantly agrees and embarks on a dangerous journey that leaves her in the Lesser Alva swamp, at the mercy of Astrid, Felissa, and Sus (the royal cousins). Determined to succeed and short on other options, Miri learns to work with the girls and gradually befriends all three. She teaches them, and they teach her, and all four survive several perils of their swampy abode.
Hale uses characters’ letters to each other to keep us mindful of other characters and what is happening in other parts of Danland. Mysteriously, though, the letters never reach their intended recipients.
Further complications arise when invaders from Stora arrive in the Lesser Alva swamp, and the girls learn that Danland is already under attack, with the royal family barricaded inside their palace. The girls combine their skills and ingenuity (with unexpected help from Peder) to mount an escape. The escape tosses them out of the frying pan into the fire.
I won’t give away the ending of Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters, but I think it’s one of Hale’s finest. The way story threads from all three books are woven together to an ending that fits and satisfies a dozen different ways is truly masterful.
I very much enjoyed this book. I like how all the main characters had to grow in order to accomplish what was required of them. I enjoyed the descriptions (lyrically concise, as one would expect from this author). The new characters dovetailed beautifully with existing characters to tell a smooth and surprisingly intricate tale.
The twists at the end were certainly surprising (and a little jarring) but made perfect sense in the context of Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters. My only complaint…heavens to Betsy, just for a change of pace, could we have some villains who aren’t obstinate old men? Other than that, I really loved the book. Two big thumbs up.
Release Date: February 24, 2015 (USA)
ISBNs: 1619634856 (9781619634855)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Violence: 2 (battles, character is shot, fisticuffs, fighting alligators)