Goodreads: The Forgotten Sisters
Series: Princess Academy #3
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
After a year at the king’s palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!
Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.
As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen’s interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.
In The Forgotten Sisters, Shannon Hale demonstrates once again that upper middle grade/young adult may be her strongest area. This conclusion to the Princess Academy series is strong; it includes all the elements readers have come to expect from stories featuring Miri—humor, friendship, cleverness, and fun—while also managing to throw in a few surprises. Anyone who loved the first two books will not want to miss out on this one.
Although Miri has been hoping to return to her home on Mount Eskel, the king and queen decide to send her to a remote and swampy province to train some long-neglected members of the royal family. Offering readers new settings has always been an effective writing tool for Hale, and The Forgotten Sisters is no exception. Havoc ensues as Miri attempts to learn the ways of the swamp and to win over her new charges, yet Miri also gets to increase her knowledge of etiquette and diplomacy.
The sisters themselves are also quite wonderful. Hale develops each in detail, giving them complex personalities. On one hand, they are “rough” citizens of the swamp who hunt and prepare their own food. On the other, they are normal girls with hopes and dreams, and enough nobleness of spirit one can easily believe they are part of the royal family. (If, you know, one adheres to the idea that noble-born people also have noble spirits.) Hale also creates a funny yet endearing group dynamic among the sisters; these girls clearly look out for each other.
And for those wondering where Peder is (he isn’t mentioned in the publisher’s summary!), he does make more than a passing appearance. Readers who have loved seeing Miri and Peder’s relationship grow will not be disappointed by the final leg of their story, which is filled with moments of tenderness and understanding.
Finally, the tone of The Forgotten Sisters is immensely uplifting. One can help but feel good reading about the strong relationships that many of the characters have—and cannot help but feel there must be hope for those with broken ones. The book is by turns funny (I laughed out loud more than once), thoughtful, clever, and moving. One can easily believe that Miri is both a good friend and a smart planner, deserving of having been appointed a royal tutor.
Altogether, The Forgotten Sisters is an extremely satisfying book. Full of heart, humor, and strong writing, it is a perfect end to Miri’s story (though I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more!). Recommended for those who enjoy fantasy, strong female friendships, or just good books.