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Life, Law & Libros

Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2 stars)

Mini-reviews are tweaked versions of reviews I wrote before starting the blog. It's a good way to show some love to older books (and keep me from panicking when I slack off and don't have anything new). The originals remain on Goodreads (unless it was, like, one sentence), and the new reviews get posted here in between reviews of books I'm currently reading. How to tell them apart? The mini-reviews get this cool intro paragraph. :)

Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Series: The Palace Chronicles #2
Genres: MG, Fantasy
Published on September 30, 2008
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars

"Somewhere in the world I have a tiara in a little box. It is not safe for me to wear it...It is not safe for me even to tell anyone who I really am. But I know -- I have always known."

Cecilia knows that she is not just another peasant girl; she is actually the true princess, in hiding until the evil forces that killed her parents are vanquished. A commoner named Desmia is on the throne as a decoy.

As she gets older, Cecilia finds it harder to study statesmanship and palace protocol secretly at night and then pretend that she has nothing on her mind other than scrubbing the gruel stains out of her best apron by day.

Cecilia knows that it is time to take charge. Along with her best friend, Harper, she flees to the capital city, determined to reclaim her throne and face the danger head on.

When Harper and Cecilia reach the famed Palace of Mirrors, they discover complications: Princess Desmia believes an entirely different version of the story.

Acclaimed author Margaret Peterson Haddix returns to the charmed world of Just Ella, where a princess-in-hiding and a pretender to the throne discover that nothing is as it appears.

A princess in hiding decides to step out of the shadows and take control of her kingdom. She has trained and prepared for this day all her life, and now, as war continues to devastate her country, despite the dangers that await, it is time. Sounds good, right?

The concept is appealing- a princess hidden away while a decoy sits on the throne and distracts assassins decides the danger is worth the difference she can make. Yay, danger! Unfortunately, the execution fell short of my expectations, which, admittedly, were somewhat high because I loved the first book in this series. Unlike the protagonist of Just Ella, Cecelia never reaches a turning point where she grows a spine. Or a brain. For a 15-year-old, she continues to make one poorly considered, rash decision after another, repeating the same mistakes again and again. She reads more like a Children's heroine, a young one. And she cries too often.

All that aside, Palace of Mirrors is still a decent read. There's a mystery in the castle, a loyal (and thankfully smarter) best friend, and some familiar faces from Book 1 make appearances. The ending wraps up a little too easily and neatly for my taste, but it should please most Middle Grade readers. The important thing is that I was curious enough about how the author would tie things up to keep reading through the end.


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  2. Is this at all connected to JUST ELLA, or is it just in the same world?

    1. It is connected (this is the country Ella's kingdom is at war with), and Ella actually makes a significant appearance in this one.

  3. I've never heard of this book or author, and I already know I would never have given it a chance, nor will I be in the future. This book does NOT sound like one for me. Great review, Kel! I hope you read something fabulous next :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I've read a number of titles by Margaret Peterson Haddix and liked the majority of them. This book, unfortunately, was not one of her better reads, but I definitely recommend its predecessor, Just Ella (a non-magical Cinderella retelling). :)