cover image Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59990-873-1

Readers of Hale's Newbery Honor%E2%80%93winning Princess Academy (2005) will welcome this reunion with Miri and her schoolmates, as they descend Mount Eskel to help Britta prepare for her wedding to Prince Steffan. But while the palace in the capital city of Asland is as luxurious as their imaginations conjured, the working classes are hungry and tired of footing the royal family's bill. Revolution is in the air, and it sweeps Miri, now enrolled at the university, into its wake. Miri is torn in several ways: between two boys, between the educational advantages Asland offers and her home in the mountains, and between empathy for the "shoeless" and loyalty to Britta, who has become the focus of the revolutionaries' wrath. Hale handles these threads ably, although a scene in which the Eskelites stop a villain by using their ability to communicate through stone%E2%80%94a homegrown talent called "quarry-speech"%E2%80%94has a whiff of comic-book superhero that feels out of place. Still, this is a fine follow-up to a novel that already felt complete. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Sept.)