This is the story of a maid who is locked up in a tower with her lady for seven years because the lady doesn't want to marry who her father, the lord of the land, wants her to marry. She works to make the life as comfortable as possible, from capturing the rats that sneak in to eat their food storage, cleaning, washing, emptying chamber pots and recording their experiences in her book. There are two men who are come to visit - one is the mean man the lady didn't want to marry in the first place (and he is a JERK) and the other is the one she really loves and wants to marry. They survive freezing winters and scorching summers. The whole tale takes place in an Asian type setting (which I loved) and has some twists and elements of the fantastic that I just did not see coming.
This book was a very fun reading experience. Hale's language is just enough to be detailed without boring, her magical elements seem natural and just flow into the story. This would be fun for anyone who can read this level up through adults. I even think I liked it better than Princess Academy. I can't wait to read other books by Shannon Hale.