Palace of Mirrors (Palace Chronicles Series #2)

Palace of Mirrors (Palace Chronicles Series #2)

by Margaret Peterson Haddix


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Cecelia looks like a peasant girl and lives in a village so small that it's not even on the map. But she knows that secretly, she is the true princess, hidden away as a baby to be kept safe from the enemies of the kingdon. A commoner named Desmia was placed on the throne as a decoy. Cecelia has always known that when it was safe, she would be taken out of hiding and returned to her rightful place on the throne.

Then danger finds her in her village, and Cecelia has to act. With the help of her best friend Harper, she decides to take matters into her own hands, relieve Desmia of the the crown, and take up her own rule. But when they venture from their small village to the capital city and into the famed Palace of Mirrors, Harper and Cecelia discover that all is not as it seems, and that they have placed themselves in more danger than ever before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481420228
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Series: Palace Chronicles Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 319,161
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

Palace mirrors

  • 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 to know where it is. It is not safe for me even to tell anyone who I really am.

    But I know—I have always known. Perhaps Nanny Gratine sang my secret to me in hushed lullabies when I was a tiny, squalling creature. Perhaps Sir Stephen began his weekly visits even in my first months, and whispered into my ear when it was no bigger than an acorn, “You are the true princess. We will protect you. We will keep you safe until the evil ones are vanquished and the truth can be revealed. . . .”

    I can almost picture him kneeling before my cradle, his white beard gleaming in the candlelight, his noble face almost completely hidden by the folds of a peasant’s rough, hooded cloak. This is how he always comes to visit us—in disguise.

    I am in disguise too. I think if I had not known the truth about myself from the beginning, it would be hard to believe. To everyone else in the village I am just another barefoot girl who carries buckets of water from the village well, hangs her laundry on the bushes, hunts berries and mushrooms and greens in the woods. Nobody knows how I study at night, turning over the thin pages of Latin and Greek, examining the gilded pictures of kings and queens—my ancestors—as if staring could carry me into the pictures too. Sometimes, looking at the pictures, I can almost feel the silk gowns rustling around my ankles, the velvet cloaks wrapped around my shoulders, the gleaming crown perched upon my head. It is good that Nanny Gratine has no mirror in her cottage, because then I would be forced to see that none of that is real. I have patches on my dress, a holey shawl clutched over the dress, a threadbare kerchief tying back my hair. This is strange. This is wrong. What kind of princess wears rags? What kind of kingdom has to keep its own royalty hidden?

    I don’t know why, but ever since I turned fourteen, questions like that have been multiplying in my mind, teeming like water bugs in the pond after a strong rain. Last night, as Sir Stephen was giving me my next reading assignment in Duties and Obligations of Royal Personages, a thought occurred to me that was so stunning and bizarre I nearly fell off my stool.

    I gasped, and the words were out of my mouth before I had time to remember Rule Three of the Royal Code. (“One must consider one’s utterances carefully, as great importance is attached to every syllable that rolls from a royal’s tongue.”) Even though I know that the Great Zedronian War was started by a king who said, “Dost thou take me for a fool? Art thou a fool thyself?” when he should have hemmed and hawed and waited to speak until he could find a wiser way of expressing himself, I still blurted out without thinking, “Great galleons and grindelsporks! Are you her teacher, too?”

    Sir Stephen scratched thoughtfully at his chin, setting off tremors in the lustrous curls of his beard.

    “Eh? What’s that?” he said, blinking his wise old eyes at me several times before finally adding, “Whose teacher?”

    Sir Stephen is entirely too good at following Rule Three of the Royal Code, even though he’s only a knight, not royalty.

    But then I hesitated myself, because I’m always loath to speak the name. I stared down at my hands folded in my lap and whispered, “Desmia’s.”

    Desmia is the fake princess, the one who wears my royal gowns, the one who sits on my royal throne—the one who’s saving my royal life.

    Sir Stephen did not reply until I gathered the nerve to raise my head and peer back up at him again.

    “And why would I be Desmia’s teacher?” he asked, raising one grizzled eyebrow. He wasn’t going to make this any easier for me than conjugating Latin verbs, solving geometry proofs, or memorizing the principle exports of Xeneton.

    “Because you know how to train royalty, and—”

    “She’s not royalty,” Sir Stephen said patiently.

    “But she’s pretending to be, and if she has to keep up appearances, to throw off and confuse the enemy—then doesn’t she have a tutor too?”

    I cannot remember when I found out about Desmia, any more than I can remember when I found out about myself. Perhaps, by my cradleside, Sir Stephen also crooned, “And don’t worry that your enemies will ever find you. They won’t even look because we’ve placed a decoy on the throne, a fake, a fraud, an impostor. If the evil ones ever try to harm Desmia, we will find them out; we will roust them. And then we can reveal your existence, and the kingdom will ring with gladness, to have its true princess back, safe and unscathed. . . .”

    When I was younger I used to playact the ceremony I planned to have for the girl Desmia when the enemy was gone and the truth came to light. I’d play both roles, out in the cow pasture: kneeling and humble as Desmia, standing on the wooden fence to attain proper royal stature when I switched to playing myself.

    “I, Princess Cecilia Aurora Serindia Marie, do hereby proclaim my gratitude to the commoner Desmia, for all the kingdom to see,” I’d intone solemnly, balanced on the fence rails.

    Then I’d scramble down and bow low (though keeping a watch out so that neither my knees nor my forehead landed in a cowpat).

    “Oh, Princess,” I’d squeak out, as Desmia. “It is I who ought to be thanking you, for allowing me the chance to serve my kingdom, to ensure your safety. I have wanted nothing more than your safe return to the throne.”

    Back to the fence rail. Back to my royal proclamation voice.

    “It is a fortunate ruler who has such loyal subjects. In honor of your service, I grant you a tenth of the royal treasury,” I’d say. Sometimes the reward was “land on the Calbrenian coast” or “my best knight’s hand in marriage” or “the services of your favorite dressmaker for a year.” But somehow it never sounded right. What was the proper reward for someone who had risked her life to save mine? What was the proper reward for someone who’d already gotten to wear silks and satins while I wore rags, who’d gotten to feast on every delicacy in the kingdom while I ate porridge and gruel, who’d slept in a castle while I slept on a mat on the floor? Wasn’t it reward enough that she’d gotten to live the life that was rightfully mine?

    Last night, when I asked Sir Stephen if he was Desmia’s tutor too, he finally shook his head and said, “Of course I’m not Desmia’s tutor. She doesn’t need to learn the same lessons as you.”

    It was a perfectly clear answer—straightforward and to the point. But it left me wanting more. Long after Sir Stephen had shifted into a lecture on the Eight Principles of Royal Governance, I was still thinking of more questions. Then who is her tutor? What lessons does she learn? And, most of all, When? When will we trade lives? When will I ever get to use all this nonsense I’m learning?

    When will my real life begin?

  • Customer Reviews

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    Palace of Mirrors 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is wonderful when I began reading it I could NOT put it down! I love the way that it goes back in to ware there are Kings, Queens, and peasents. I have never read I book like this before! I just LOVE it!!!!!
    pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
    Palace of Mirrors is a great book. I read Just Ella a few years back, and I didn't like it so I was skeptical about trying this book. As soon as I was two chapters into the story I was hooked. My absolute favorite book is Ella Enchanted, and this book reminded me strongly of Ella Enchanted. While it usually takes awhile to capture the reader's interest, Margaret Haddix captures the interest of readers in the beginning of her story because the action begins immediately rather than towards the end. The plot is fast paced and complex. I wasn't expecting to be surprised by the ending of this story at all - I thought that I had everything figured out, but boy was I wrong! The story begins with the fact that Cecilia has been told from infant-hood that she is a true princess and that a pretender sits in her thrown to keep her safe from even though Cecilia wears rags, doesn't own a pair of shoes, and looks like a farm girl she just knows that the girl sitting in HER castle sucking on a silver spoon, wearing beautiful gowns, and a crown on her head isn't the true princess. Under dire circumstances Cecilia leaves her tiny village, along with her friend Harper, to go to the palace and live the life that she was destined for...little does she know that things at the palace aren't as they seem to be. Who is the REAL princess after all? Ms.Haddix has a well-devolved story that teen girls who love a good fairytale will enjoy. This story is a unique one because it is not a retelling of a well-known fairytale that we have all read - it is a completely new idea that I think is pure genius. I hope others will enjoy this story as much as I did. As for questionable content: Cecelia begins to think about boys in a way she has never thought of them before. She talks about wanting to sleep with a certain boy side-by-side (for comfort purposes), and blushing, realizes that that is how a man and wife sleep. Other than that I can't think of anything that would bother younger readers, or parent's of younger readers : )
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is my favorite book of all time . All of the exitement I recomend it !
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is fanttastic its easy to read.
    HeatherS2 More than 1 year ago
    I thought this was a cute book for the target age group. My two young daughters liked it. Although it is an interesting story, it is in my opinion a good story that could have been much better. The plot is unique yet uninspiring most of the time. While the heroine Cecelia does seem to mature at the end of the book, the hero Harper doesn't leave adolecence to move into manhood even though he wants to get married. I didn't like the whole scenerio at the end with the queen, it was too contrived and not realisticlly accomplished.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book! You can always turn to haddix for an interesting twist on a somewhat common plot!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book and Every girl would Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The book Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a very interesting book. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read thrillers, or being surprised. Margaret Peterson Haddix creates suspense and excitement for any reader who likes to read these types of books. Palace of Mirrors is about a girl named Cecilia who lives in a cottage with her nanny. Cecilia believes she is the true princess of Suala, but there is already a princess ruling. Cecilia will do anything to claim her throne, so she travels on an adventure to the city with her best friend, Harper. In my opinion, Margaret Peterson Haddix made the book very interesting. One of the things I liked was the way she used her words to create some surprising and exciting events. I liked the way she created suspense, because that kept me reading the book. Overall, I think the book was very good. Margaret Peterson Haddix did a wonderful job writing this book. Once I went through the first part of the book, she kept my attention with the events that happened in the novel. I gave this book four stars, because I thought Margaret Peterson Haddix did make the story about something that everyone likes.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Couldn't put it down!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is awsome!!!!!!!!!! It has sooooo mutch detail!!!!!!!! : )
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book so.amazing! I suggest reading Just Ella first though. I really love this book its so good! I reccamend it for girls ages 9-13
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It felt like it could be true! I couldnt put the book down!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a really good book. You should read it because it is about a girl who has to hide from evil peole that murred her mom and dad and Cillice is the only one left in her family because they did not kill her, so now they put a fake princess in her place untill it was safe to tell the village people who the real princess is and then she could live her normal life as a princess in her parents castle so that she could be in charge of the kingdom.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Though i have not yet read the book, i know that Margaret Peterson Haddix shall not fail to deliver. She is a brilliant writer if i have ever seen one with her unique literary skills and outstanding suspense.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It was a thrilling, exiting, and, adventurous, book.Inever put the book down until I was done reading it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am a big Haddix fan and when I didnt have a nook I would raed her books all the time at my library and she has some talent!all her books are great but she has outdone herself this time!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Had me glued to it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Margret Peterson Haddix is my all time favorite author because she makes you feel like you are living in ger awesome books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read tons of Margaret Peterson Haddix books but this one by far is the best. It shows that you shouldn't only care about yourself but you should be able to risks for a friend to save their life. This book is also very descriptive is always surprising you. I love it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A facinating tale that takes place in midevile times. Haddix has not yet faild a single book even in this adventurous story with a twist ending that will have you on the edge of you seat.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was a quick read sweet little romance novel but has a thrilling twist
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Luv luv luv this very suspensful book!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really love this book. Buy it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read this book thinking that it was going to be like a fairy tale but it was nothing like that. It was adventure, mystery and romance. It is my favorite book of all time. I make all of my friends read it bc i love it so much! YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!