Author: M.A. Larson
Series: Untitled #1
Genre: Middle Grade, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, 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 steel 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.
Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.
First Sentence: If I’m still in this forest by nightfall, I’ll never leave it again.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
I don’t know what called me to Pennyroyal Academy when I first saw it at BEA. Maybe it was the dragon on the cover because who doesn’t want to read a book with dragons in it? Maybe it was the premise – I want to read anything and everything that has to do with princesses in a fairytale-like world. Maybe it’s because I saw that Pennyroyal Academy was a Middle Grade novel and I want to find a Middle Grade book that I’ll actually enjoy reading. Either way, I’m glad I did end up picking up Pennyroyal Academy and didn’t leave it anywhere (I was debating what BEA books I’ve obtained to leave behind on the floor because I picked up way too many books there).
Like I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph of my review, Pennyroyal Academy is a Middle Grade novel and it has…wait for it…kissing it in. I know most Middle Grade books don’t have kissing in it because Middle Grade books are meant for middle graders to read (why, speak the obvious Kelly) and people don’t think it’s appropriate for middle graders to read about kissing, but don’t worry, Pennyroyal Academy is innocent in a princessy kind of way (am I making any sense right now?). The kissing scene in Pennyroyal Academy is between a princess and a knight (there are no princes in Pennyroyal Academy), which is kind of expected in every childhood fairytale, which is for a princess and a knight to kiss at the end of the story.
There was this twist in Pennyroyal Academy that I didn’t see coming (how did I not see it coming when it is so obvious in a way?) that just left me gaping in shock. In case you don’t know, I am very good at predicting twists – I saw the ending of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart when I was just thirty pages into the book and predicted the epic ending of Evertrue by Brodi Ashton at page ninety-nine of the ARC. I ruin books by predicting twists easily.. Pennyroyal Academy‘s twist, however, caught me completely by surprised and just, guys, read this book to feel the way I felt. That’s all I’ll say about it so I won’t spoil anything for you guys.
I do have a kind of big problem with Pennyroyal Academy, specifically, the pacing. The writing was choppy at times and sometimes, months go by in a single paragraph and you don’t realize it until a page or two later, when you blink and go wait, what just happened? Whaa? The pacing was also inconsistent, sometimes it drags for awhile and other times, things go by fairly fast.
There were also some loose ends in Pennyroyal Academy that was never explained or bought up at the end of the book. I don’t know if it will be explained or bought in the sequel, but as of now, I’m guessing probably.
Overall, I definitely recommend Pennyroyal Academy for people who love reading fairytales, but it also comes with a warning attached: Watch out for the pacing and writing. Pennyroyal Academy is definitely a really enjoyable book once you look past the pacing and the writing, which I definitely can as you can see from my rating.
P.S. If you’re wondering why I didn’t grab any quotes from the book like I usually do when I write other book reviews, it’s because I was reading Pennyroyal Academy at school and my friend who loves dragon books wanted it asap as soon as she saw I was done reading it. So yes, there are no quotes in my review this time around.