By: Laura Sebastian
# 1 in Ash Princess Trilogy | 433 Pages | Pub 2018
Ash Princess at a Glance
- Overall Rating: ★★★★
- Heroine: Plotting Princess
- Dude: Again with the love triangles
- Steaminess: Burned to ash
- Brutality: Mouths repeatedly sewn shut
Pairs Well With
- 2ounces blended Scotch whisky
- 1ounce apple brandy
- 1/4ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 2dashes orange bitters
- 1large wide lemon peel ‘chip’, as garnish
Beware…spoilers are coming…
I was a little worried beginning this book because lots of reviews mentioned that it is the same old story YA fantasy about a princess taking back her throne. That is 100% true, but aren’t all storylines recycled? This is a first novel and in my opinion it was spectacular for a first novel. There is certainly room for improvement and I think we will get that in Lady Smoke.
The thing I was not prepared for was the level of brutality in this book. Outside of the torture Theo had to go through physically, she was also kept as a pet and messed up mentally. Spoiler alert, the evil king makes her kill her own dad. This guy is almost on a level with Maeve from Throne of Glass for me. The mind games he plays and creepy ways of torturing people make you pray for a quick death. The dude is a serious monster.
Theo was a very relatable heroine. She has grown up with her mother’s murderer, for what reason we don’t know other than he is a psycho, and has survived pretty well considering. I got really frustrated with her back and forth, but I realized it was necessary and more realistic because she has loyalties in two places. Her internal struggle is real and I was pleased with how she came into her own at the very end.
I couldn’t figure out if I liked Soren and Blaise and I kept hoping for more from them in the way of character development. Maybe the second book could include their POVs so that we can get more from them. The one thing I wish this book had was a couple of chapters in the two guys’ heads. I am also excited to get more from Art in the second novel and to see what true hell Cress reigns down. I loved her change in character and am 100% excited to see them battle it out.
Yes, this is the story of a princess who needs to take back her thrown from the evil king, but it is a solid read if you can handle the brutality. I have high hopes for the rest of the series!
TW: sexual assault, slavery, suicide, beatings, murder
Like Jess, I wasn’t really bothered by the fact that this story is very similar to several other YA fantasy novels (Red Queen, Ember in the Ashes, Throne of Glass, etc). Despite the fact that it isn’t unique, Ash Princess was intriguing, compelling and kept me engaged the entire time. I stayed up until 2 am to finish it which is a pretty big deal for this old person.
I’m not sure what it says about me that I loved this book despite its utter brutality. No part of this book was bright and shiny. It was all torture, mind games, and betrayal. It felt similar to Game of Thrones and how you can’t stop watching even when a girl has to kill her father and when you can’t trust anyone. Theo’s plot line gave me Sansa-esque feels as they are both captured nobles forced to endure horrible torture and mind games for years.
In my defense I think what I was most captivated by in this story was the rebellion and magic scattered throughout the story. I love a good rebellion and watching Theo and her people plot to free themselves and their people was compelling. And entangled in that were the complicated relationships Theo built with the Prince and her best friend Cress. I wasn’t feeling the romance and love triangle with Theo, Blaise and Soren but I did like the complications Theo’s feelings for Soren brought to the plot. Add in Cress (who I did NOT like at all) and it was realistic to how messy rebellions are and how humanity and morality are complicated to balance as a queen. I’m a little scared at what Cress is going to do in the next book TBH. Hell hath no fury. Plus, the descriptions of the magic and mythology of Astrea’s gods and goddesses were interesting to read. I found myself wanting to become a Fire guardian and bring down the evil Kaiser.
I can’t wait for Lady Smoke for more experiences in this brutal world, Theo, plot twists and rebellion. If there’s less love triangle that’d be okay with me though!
Have you read Ash Princess? Let us know what you thought in the comments!