Palace of Stone is the sequel to the Newbery book Princess Academy, one of my favorite Newbery books ever. When I found this sequel, I was equal parts excited and wary. I loved Princess Academy so much, getting to know Miri and the other mountain girls and how quarry-speak carried through the linder, stone which the mountain people carved out of the mountainside for use in the lowlands, and I was afraid that this sequel wouldn’t live up to the original.
At the beginning of this book, Miri and a few of the other girls from the academy are invited to visit Britta at the palace as she prepares for her wedding. But a letter from Katar, now a delegate for Mount Eskel, sends a cryptic letter that makes Miri think that their visit might be more than just a pleasure trip. As the girls acclimate to life in Asland, Miri begins to see the injustices that the nobles have carried out against the “shoeless,” the poor of the country. She works hard at her studies, as the other girls pursue their own interests, but she finds herself increasingly drawn to the revolution that may soon be taking place. But when Miri finds that the spark for the revolution may hurt her friend Britta, she doesn’t know what to do. Can Miri stay the girl from Mount Eskel, or does she need to find a new path?
The best part about this book was that the quarry-speak from the first book was used and expounded upon. I loved the girls’ ability to communicate without anyone else knowing, and I loved the power of the linder as it carried the power of the mountain. This book wasn’t quite as good as the original, but I truly enjoyed it. Hale’s writing style stayed consistent in both books, and the simplicity of the writing was beautiful.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good
Hattie Ever After was not nearly as good a sequel, sadly. I loved, loved, loved Hattie Big Sky, the Newbery winner that was the original. But this sequel did not stack up. Hattie, after failing to claim her uncle’s land, decides to move to San Francisco to pursue her dream of being a journalist, much to her boyfriend Charlie’s chagrin. She fights her way into a newspaper job, where she encounters scammers and backstabbing, along with adventure and plenty of questions about her future.
There just wasn’t as much substance or emotional resonance here as in the original book, and though I still liked Hattie, I felt like she could have been any 1900s female character looking to break into a male-dominated field. Just not as interesting as the original.
Rating: Good but Forgettable