SOURCE: Publisher Sent ARC
TITLE: Ash Princess
AUTHOR: Laura Sebastian
SERIES: Ash Princess (#1)
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Retelling
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes.
Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess. When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz.
Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become Queen.
What I Liked:
- The characters were the biggest thing in this list - especially the MC Theodosia! She was strong and capable, smart too, but also not emotionless or totally cruel. Sebastian carefully crafted a balance with her and it was refreshing to read a character loosely based on Cinderella be more than just a princess in need of rescuing. I also liked Cress, a character I completely underestimated to begin with, and the Prinz, who was absolutely adorable yet still morally grey. They all provided some great twists!
- I was pretty hooked while reading this and I think that the plot was well executed. It kept me on my toes and though I could feel some connections to 'Cinderella', it felt like a completely different story! I loved the political complexities and court intrigue especially - it's probably my favourite fantasy trope and Sebastian did a great job while adding some originality too.
What I Disliked:
- I have to say that while I loved Theodosia/Thora, the romance element (especially the love triangle) felt a little forced. There was absolutely no chemistry with Blaise in my opinion, and while I liked Soren better as a love interest, everything felt a little rushed there too. There was an element of manipulation there though so I'll forgive that one a little more readily.
I really liked this first instalment in Laura Sebastian's debut series, and I'm really looking forward to reading book two! There were a couple of wobbles and tropes I'm less keen on - love triangles, insta-love and villains that are evil for the sake of being evil. But I did love the twists and turns this story provided, the thought that had been put into the character crafting and world-building, and the wholly badass, refreshing take on 'Cinderella'.