Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher

Knightley Academy
Author: Violet Haberdasher
Publication: Aladdin; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)

Description: Henry Grim has never been in trouble for borrowing a sword from the headmaster?s private stores. He has never discovered a forbidden room in a foreign castle, or received a death threat over breakfast.

All Henry knows is life as an orphaned servant boy at the Midsummer School, bullied by the privileged sons of aristocracy. But all that changes when Henry is the first commoner to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Knightley Academy, where he will be trained as a modern-day knight alongside the cleverest and bravest fourteen-year-olds in the country.

Henry and his roommates, two other students from decidedly un-Knightley backgrounds, are not exactly greeted with open arms by their classmates. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that someone is going to great lengths to sabotage the trio's chances at becoming knights. But Henry soon learns that there is more at stake than his future at Knightley, and only he can sound the alarm. Is anyone going to believe a former servant on the brink of expulsion?

Brimming with wry humor, page-turning suspense, and surprising twists, this first adventure in a memorable new series is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My Thoughts: This was a good middle grade story that reminded me of Harry Potter but without the magic, In this alternate world, war has been outlawed by treaty and the training schools for knights are now essentially training police officers. Only aristocrats need apply in this segregated society! However, Henry is allowed to take the entrance exam and admitted to the adademy along with two other commoners. They are not treated well by the other first year students. The are subject to acts of sabotage. But beyond the boys' immediate problems is the larger one that the neighboring country might be ignoring the treaty and preparing for a war. 

I thought Henry was an interesting character - bright, honest, loyal. His friends who represented a religious minority and an ethnic minority were well-drawn characters too with distinct personalities outside of their minorities. They also befriend the daughter of the Headmaster whose actions underscore the fact the women are second class citizens in the society. Even though the characters' basic descriptions were stereotypical - the poor servant boy, the Jewish student, the Indian student, and the rebellious girl - they had other unique and interesting character traits. 

I hope that there will be sequels as the large problem with the neighboring country was not resolved. Our characters' problem was resolved. They have managed to stay in the Knightley Academy.

Recommended for middle grade and young adult readers who are fans of boarding schools, adventures, and historical fiction.

Favorite Quote:
The library, like everything at Knightley Academy, was far grander than its counterpart at the Midsummer School. The books stretched upward for two stories, requiring both ladders and a wrap-around balcony for access. The ceiling, painted in fresco, was a dome depicting the celestial sphere and the myths of the constellations. Between every three seats at the long tables sat a green reading lamp, and the chairs, although worn from centuries of use, were comfortable.

Challenges: In the Middle Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge


  1. Great review! I think that my 6th graders would really like this book. I will have to get a copy for my classroom library. It is definitely reminiscent of Harry Potter!

  2. Great review! This sounds a bit like a mix between Harry Potter and some of Tamora Pierce's books (with no magic, though). I may have to give it a try.

  3. I have this one on my wish list, so it's nice to see a positive review. Thanks!

  4. thanks for your useful info !!
    i think you will like it very much . come to have a look , please !!
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  5. I really hope it does appeal to audiences because I felt that the bond between the characters was strong like in HP, even if it lacked magic. I think a lot of your students would enjoy this one.


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