Read for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.
Miri lives on Mount Eskel, the one place in Danland where the prized linder rock is mined. Everyone in Miri’s village works in the linder mines, except for Miri herself, who at fourteen is tiny, and not very suited to mine work. Still, Miri wishes she could work in the mine, and help her family and the village.
As this is really a fairy tale, Miri’s wishes are of course answered, and it comes in the form of the heir to the throne having to choose a wife. In their country, when the prince is old enough to marry, the priests scry for the location of where his future bride lives. And for the first time, the answer is Mount Eskel. And so it is that the lowlanders come to the mountain, and set up an academy to teach all of the “wild mountain girls” between the ages of 13 and 17 how to be princesses, in anticipation of the prince arriving, and choosing one of the girls as his wife. Naturally, they learn a lot more in the academy than anyone thought they would.
This is a sweet growing up and figuring out who you really are and what’s really important to you tale. I had figured out fairly early on who the princess would end up being, but I was still a little surprised by the end how the choice came to be. The setting is beautifully described, and you can tell the author loves her mountains.
This is a Newbery Honor book, so I’m clearly not the only one that enjoyed reading it.