The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson is the second book starring a girl raised by dragons and her friends as they learn to be princesses at Pennyroyal Academy. Being a princess is a lot hard than you might think though, since princesses must be trained to fight the witches terrorizing the land! Oh and boys can be princesses to, just so you know.
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson
Narrated by Susan Duerden
(Pennyroyal Academy #2)
Published by GP Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on June 14th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 368 pages
Audio Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
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When Princess Cadet Evie returns to Pennyroyal Academy, she’s suddenly become famous. Word has traveled far and wide of her defeating the witches and has inspired a wave of new recruits to the Academy. Though flattering, the unexpected attention is overwhelming for Evie, and amidst the piles and piles of fan mail, she finds a letter with an ominous threat. A secret society has come out of the shadows with a wicked plan, putting the Academy in great peril. This new enemy has powers impervious to the princess’s magic—posing a new risk to Evie and her friends. The danger looms even larger when Evie discovers someone close to the Academy may not be who they seem. It’s up to Evie and her friends to uncover the devious plot and save their once venerable Academy before it’s too late.
This sequel to the beloved, critically-acclaimed Pennyroyal Academy promises middle-grade readers even more adventure and suspense.
- More dragons! Evie has spent the summer at home with her dragon family, so the beginning of the book opens with lots of dragons as Evie is learning to breathe fire :D. I love the message throughout the book that just because Evie happened to be born human, doesn’t mean she can’t be a dragon. Gives me hope for my own ambitions ;-).
- The Pennyroyal series has impressed me over and over with how thoroughly it is determined to subvert gender roles. This is clearest in princess school requiring a fairy drill sergeant and the chance of death, but also in that one of Evie’s fellow princess cadets is a boy named Basil. There is knight training at the school too, but Basil isn’t training to be a knight. He wants to be a princess and so he’s training to be one no matter what anyone says!
- These books are wonderful in their emphasis on friendship. Evie and her friends go through some very typical growing pains as new friends are made and old friends feel forgotten. But they work through it and talk it out. This is a great book for a young girl to read as an example of how to navigate the difficulties of friendship at the middle grade age.
- If you couldn’t tell already by Evie’s family being dragons, Pennyroyal also has a lovely message about found family vs. blood family. Evie has a sister who is a witch (which is genetic), but that doesn’t stop Evie from believing in her sister’s goodness when no one else will. Evie’s dragon family is just as important to her as her human family, and don’t you dare say anything to the contrary ;-).
- While I really loved the first book, Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy felt like book one all over again without anything all that new added. Another year of training, more witches to battle, more discoveries about being true to yourself. These are all great things, but I wanted something new and fresh.
- I tried out the audiobook this time around and wasn’t a huge fan of the narration. The narrator had some odd end-of-sentence inflections that made everything sound like a question. I got used to it, but not an audiobook that I demand you go out and get immediately.
The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy is a fun continuation of a fantastic middle grade series, full of dragons and witches, friends and family, and a complete disregard for gender roles. It is definitely a series I highly recommend to young readers, though I’m less amazed by this second book than I was the first.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.