Review of Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

SFFaudio Review

Princess Academy by Shannon HalePrincess Academy
By Shannon Hale; Read by a Full Cast
8 CDs – 8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 1933322772
Themes: / Fantasy / Young Adult / Magic / Culture / Royalty / Boarding School / Economics /

Earlier this year (2007), the unabridged Full Cast Audio production of Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl won an Audie Award for Achievement in Production. Now, Full Cast Audio offers another Shannon Hale novel in a production that may be even better. Princess Academy is a wonderful YA fantasy novel that is a sure bet to enthrall readers (and now listeners) of all ages.

It’s become cliché to say that this or that YA novel has wider appeal than their target audience but Shannon Hale’s, without question, fit that description. They are appropriate for young listeners (the box says “ages 10 to adult”) and at the same time are smart enough and, most importantly, true enough for older readers. This novel is entertaining, but the characters live realistic and difficult lives. Through them, Hale helps us understand that there’s nothing more important in life than love.

The main character of the novel is Miri, a fourteen year old girl who is small for her age. She lives in a mountain village, where most of the residents work in the nearby quarry. One day, a herald arrives and announces that priests have determined that the bride of the prince, who lives in a bustling city, will come from the tiny region that Miri lives in, and that all girls 14-18 years old must report to an academy so that they might be educated for the prince’s visit one year later, when he will make his choice. The girls are collected and brought to the academy, some of them willingly, and some of them not.

Miri is not happy about it, and her feelings of inadequacy due to the overprotective way her father treats her are compounded and confused by the fact that he does not put up much of a fight to keep her from going. But once she gets to the academy and learns to read, she realizes the benefit and takes full advantage of the experience, which is made all the more difficult by a very hard headmistress. Throughout the story, Miri learns of a magic called “quarryspeak”, which is a method of psychic communication that seems to work only between quarry workers while in the quarry. She finds that there’s more to it than that, and she finds out there’s a lot more to everything else, too.

The Full Cast Audio team has mastered their unique method of unabridged audiobook production. There is no other company that produces audiobooks the way they do it, and every book they come out with is technically better than the last. Actors are used for all the dialogue, and a narrator reads everything else. An 8 hour production like this would lose its appeal if any of the roles were cast with questionable talent, but that’s not a problem here. Particularly good were Jo D’Aloisio, the young girl who played Miri, Laura Credidio, the narrator, and Alice Morigi, who played Tutor Olana, the icy headmistress. The entire cast deserves kudos. Skilled acting and directing along with perfect music and editing make this production a wondrous experience. Simply excellent, all around.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

New Arrivals – Ben Bova and Shannon Hale

Science Fiction Audiobook Recent Arrivals

Two more new arrivals!

The Aftermath by Ben BovaThe Aftermath: Book Four of The Asteroid Wars
By Ben Bova; Read by Emily Janice Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, Stephen Hoye, and Stefan Rudnicki
10 CDs – 12 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: 2007

The final volume of The Asteroid Wars – superior hard SF!

Princess Academy by Shannon HalePrincess Academy
By Shannon Hale; Read by a Full Cast
8 CDs – 8 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2007

A 2006 Newbery Honor Book. Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl (also produced by Full Cast Audio) was an Audie Award winner last year.

FULL CAST AUDIO tells us to expect Tamora Pierce, Shannon Hale, Robert A. Heinlein and Kenneth Opel AUDIOBOOKS!

Audiobook Publisher - Full Cast AudioDaniel Bostick, producer director and actor at Full Cast Audio tells us…

“The following recordings are coming down the pipline in the next few of months:

THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS by Tamora Pierce (December 2006)
PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale (January 2007)
THE STAR BEAST by Robert A. Heinlein (1st quarter 2007)

For trivia fans: Fantasy Author Tamora Pierce and her husband Timothy Liebe will play cameo voice roles in PRINCESS ACADEMY.

Breaking news: We are in the casting stage of SKYBREAKER, Kenneth Oppel’s sequel to AIRBORN [SFFaudio Review Forthcoming]. It will record in February 07 for release later in the year.

We’re also considering participation in the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial in Kansas City next summer.”

Cool stuff.

Review of The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl
By Shannon Hale; Performed by a Full Cast
10 CDs – 10 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1932076727
Themes : / Fantasy / Magic / Horses / Animals /

When I finished listening to Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, I wanted to start the story again. I had read the fantasy novel in print form about two years before hearing it and Full Cast Audio brings the characters to life in spot-on performances which won’t disappoint fans of the novel.

The story of Ani, the Princess Anidora Kiladra, (Erica Lustig) is as intimate as if you were hearing the troubles of your best friend, while at the same time covering a sweeping political plot. Princess Ani is sent to a neighboring kingdom to marry a prince she has never met. On the way there, her handmaid conspires to have her killed and take over her identity as Princess. Ani narrowly escapes with her life and must struggle to regain her identity.

What makes this book really wonderful is that during this political struggle, Ani goes through a great deal of very real personal growth. You can see the insecure girl become a confidant young woman through the combined performance of Grace Gates (young Ani), Erica Lustig (Ani) and the compelling narrative. Even if you have already read The Goose Girl, pick up a copy of the audio; it is well-worth the listen.

Posted by Mary Robinette Kowal