Miri, as spunky and smart as ever, returns in the final book of the award-winning Princess Academy trilogy.
At the end of her year at the titular academy, Miri is anxious to return to Mount Eskel and have her betrothal to Peder proclaimed. On the day of departure, however, the king requests that she travel to Lesser Alva, a swampy outer territory, to conduct a princess academy for three sisters. He hopes to prevent war by presenting them as potential brides for the king of a neighboring kingdom, who’s possibly bent on invading. Miri finds herself bitten by snakes, wrestling caiman for food, eating rats and teaching the uncivilized sisters how to be bandits before she can teach them how to read. After uncovering a long-buried secret, Miri is fierce in righting wrongs, showing once again that one person can change the world. In a nice, feminist, concluding twist, a prince academy is established to groom a spouse for the new crown princess. Although not a traditional fairy tale, the ending is a happily-ever-after one. Strong female characters and themes of education, negotiation, family and equality are repeated in this conclusion. Hale maintains her high quality of storytelling, with lots of action, plot twists and lyrical writing. The cover is younger in style than and lacks the gravitas of the previous books’ covers.
A laudable conclusion to a popular series. (Fantasy. 10-14)