Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Pennyroyal Academy - M. A. Larson

Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson
Series: Pennyroyal Academy #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on October 7, 2014
Published by Putnam
Pages: 304
Read From: 12.21.14 - 12.25.14

A girl from the forest, with no name and no idea why she is there, arrives in a bustling kingdom only to find herself at the center of a world at war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name "Evie," she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steely glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. 
As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Oh, yes, I love the cover! It's so pretty and fantasy-ish and awesome! My only complaint is the prevailing shades of purple and pink. Why? Because this is a book that I think would also appeal to boys, but the color scheme definitely doesn't have boy-appeal and makes it look quite girly.

Characters: I love Evie! She's a strong, capable, brave, and quick-witted girl. The other girls try and bring her down with their snotty behavior, but Evie does her best at all times. Her friends Maggie and Demetra were awesome. I especially loved Demetra - a true-born princess, but hates being treated - and behaving - like one. I hated Malora at first. She's the typical snotty, uppity, rude rich girl type. Every boarding-school-like story needs one. And the more the story progressed, the more I hated her. Until the end. I ended up feeling really bad for her, actually, and I look forward to seeing what role she plays in future novels. And then there's Remington and Forbes. I loved Remington! He was so, so awesome! A privileged, popular knight-in-training, he's a super nice, funny, awesome prince. He doesn't like the praise that's been heaped on him, and he doesn't care that Evie is probably born from peasantry. Forbes, on the other hand, I still don't quite know what I think of. He's interesting, haughty, but I also get the feeling that he'll end up  being an ally that Evie will have to trust in the future.

The Romance: Evie isn't exactly in a love triangle. I suppose there's room for it to turn into one, but I don't think it will. She's mostly attached to Remington (yay!). Yes, I'm on Remington's side (so if he ends up being untrustworthy, I'll be severely disappointed!). I love Evie and I love Remington, and I love the two together. The romance isn't very prominent, but it's definitely there. And it has a few ups and downs that frustrated me - but were, at the same time, realistic and good for the story. This, in fact, may be one of my absolute favorite romances.

Plot: Evie is a girl wearing nothing but cobwebs, lost in an enchanted forest, without memory of who she is or why she's there. When she rescues Remington, a knight-in-training, from a witch, they discover that they're going to the same place: Pennyroyal Academy. A place that trains princesses to battle witches, and knights to battle dragons - the two main dangers in the kingdom. Pennyroyal Academy only accepts people of blue blood, but because the witches are invading and princesses are becoming scarce, they'll accept anyone. While at Pennyroyal, Evie fights to remember who she is, who her parents were, and what secrets swirl around Pennyroyal. This was a lot darker than I initially expected it to be. It has humor, but it's a lot more action and less light, fluffy stuff than you would think. Totally not complaining! It was awesome! The witches were super creepy, the enchanted forest super creepy, and the stakes felt high. I loved the twists - there were a surprising amount of them - and the world development. I can't wait to learn more about the different kingdoms and the dangers that await our heroes and heroines. I also loved how the Author spun famous princesses into the story; Cinderella and Snow White and all of them. If done incorrectly, it could have given the book a very hokey, disconnected feel. But it worked super well. The princesses' ability and reasons for being able to fight witches was, perhaps, a little silly. But when you actually get to read about some of the princesses fighting actual witches, it comes across as epic instead of silly.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Two words: liked it. I won't say it was something grand and special and horribly wonderful. But it was a nice style, it worked for the genre and the story, and there was nothing bad about it.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The last few pages of Pennyroyal Academy is what solidified it as being a new favorite. There was surprise after surprise. I saw a few of them coming, I'll admit. But they were still good, and there were others that I didn't see coming. It sets up Book #2 extremely well, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. There are so many good characters, good world building, a good plot, good setup, and thought put into this book. Anything could happen in the next one. I have several theories, but don't know which one will be true (if any).

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, fourteen-and-up, fans of Shannon Hale.


  1. This looked like a fun book, I almost bought it in B&N today, but didn't because I was short on money. I really want to read it though :)

    1. It's awesome. I loved it; so, so much better than I was expecting. Remington is awesome!!


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