Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess (#1)
Published by Penguin Teen
Release date: April 24th, 2018
Top 3 Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
My rating: Set it on fire/If you have nothing else to read/you need to read it/Run and buy it.
Source: ARC by Penguin Random House Canada
To buy the book: CA • US • FR
Add to: Goodreads
Hello bookdragons!! Today let’s talk about a new fantasy YA release: Ash Princess. I wanted to post this review right before the book comes out tomorrow 😉
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
A captive princess, a demonic king, and a magical kingdom
That seems like the perfect beginning for a fantasy book…. maybe too perfect. Because if I expected this book to be different from most YA ones, in the end, it was not. It could have been though: Theodosia is held captive, a pet really, by the king who invaded her kingdom. Her people are all slaved, she is mistreated badly and forced to play the perfect prisoner, forced to forget all that made her country beautiful. But one day, she will be forced to kill someone, her last link to her past, and it is then she will start to plot revenge. So yes, this book could have taken a unique direction, and it tries, but in the end, we fall back into classic plots of YA fantasy, from the way Theo think, fall in love and take her revenge. Only getting closer to the end do we start to see the originality of this book that I will discuss in the next point…
Our darkness within..
Earlier this year, I read (and loved) The Cruel Prince, where the main character is embracing her darkness and offering us a hero very different from what we are used to. It is the same vibe I got there. It took a while to happen, but through the book, we can uncover that no one is innocent, that all that matters is to survive. Even if it means hurting and killing and betraying. I always find that refreshing to see the main characters falling into their dark side, deciding to do what it takes instead of what is right. Plus, sometimes there is no right choice. That is what Laura Sebastian tells us in this book: when it is about your life ( or the lives of your people), you forget about good and bad, you just try to survive and win. I loved seeing this side of Theodosia grow and grow through the book and the transformation happening in her!
« Theodosia, Ampelio called me. It’s a strong name – the one my mother gave me. It’s the name of a queen. It doesn’t feel like a name I deserve, but here I stand, alone. If I am to survive, I must be strong enough to live up to it. »
Speaking of Theodosia
Ok, one of the things I had a problem with, in this book, was Theodosia (aka Theo/Thora): her poor decisions, her childish thoughts, and her overall passivity. Thank God, it gets better at the end of the book, but really, she still pisses me off on many points. The book is from her point of view so you can imagine how that could be a problem! She gathers several cliches of female characters in literature, and it was so frustrating to see her using her religion the way she did ( I don’t want to say more not to spoil you but yeah). The only thing I liked her for: her love life! Yes, there is a love triangle but this one I promise is a good and very interesting one!! It’s gonna be something to see what it will become in the next book!
What about the writing?
Honestly, the writing was not bad. It was not amazing either. This is a debut novel, and I have high hopes that Laura Sebastian will develop her writing style with time. There were some very well written parts in this book, and it was easy to read, and I truly believe in the potential this author has to write beautiful and captivating things!
In a few words
Overall, this book felt more like an introduction, with a slow progressing story that only took off in the last part of the book. The characters, just as the world building, have a very good potential but need more exploration to really grow and make me passionate about them. I also hope the magic will be more present in the next book!
See you for a cup!