Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1
Published by Delacorte Press on 2018-04-24
Length: 432 pages
Reviewing eBook from Library
Reading Challenges: 2018 New Release Challenge
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.
I read Ash Princess last summer and yes I know it has taken me a long time to write a review for a book I read in less than two days. But hey….2018 was long and stressful 😉 I digress….Ash Princess by debut author Laura Sebastian was everything I love about YA fantasy. It whisked me away to a different world, gave me a strong yet broken heroine, a little romance and a ton of action. The unfortunate part of it is if you read a lot of YA fantasy, you’ve read this story before: girl loses kingdom, girl vows to avenge family and get kingdom back, oh and girl falls for evil prince while still lusting for best friend who has now grown up. Red Queen anyone? But again, I digress because Ash Princess is SO much more than the trope it falls into.
Theodosia “Theo” is the princess in question. At the age of 6, she watched as her kingdom fell, witnessed her own mother killed and then was forced to kill her father. Ummm….traumatic doesn’t cover it. Theo was kept alive for one reason and one reason only: to instill fear in her people of the new regime. If her people rebel, Theo is the one punished. Her back is a mess of scar tissue, and don’t get me started on the emotional/mental abuse she is subjected too *shudder* Despite all of this, Theo clings to one thing: revenge. She will bring the Kaiser down and she take her mother’s crown back.
Theo has one friend in the castle, Cress. Cress is the daughter of the general who killed Theo’s mom. Talk about awkward! Yet they share a common bond. Both lost their mothers at a young age. These two have a sisterly relationship. Theo is conflicted though. While she has grown to love Cress (Cress is the only person she truly trusts), Cress is still the daughter of the enemy. She is blind to the suffering Theo faces, or refuses to accept that this is Theo’s life. I’m not really sure. I liked Cress, but at the same time was annoyed with her. How could she ignore her friend’s suffering? Theo was like a doll to her not, not a person.
In addition to Cress, Theo crosses paths and well falls for two boys. First the Prinz, Søren, and her childhood friend Blaise. Søren is not his father’s son. At least he doesn’t seem to be. He cringes at Theo’s torture and at times steps in offering other, less painful methods. It seems to me that the Prinz is falling for Theo while he tries to establish that he is not and will not rule as his father does.
Blaise reappears in Theo’s life working for the rebels who plan to get Theo back to the throne. He’s angry when he first appears, thinking Theo lives a life of luxury while her people die in the mines. What he didn’t realize is the true suffering of the Ash Princess. Their relationship is strained from the start by the years and trauma that separates them.
Overall I loved Ash Princess! It’s dark and twisted at times while light-hearted with an edge at others. Theo is a force to be reckoned with. The love triangle (could you hear my eyes roll?) I could have done without. However Sebastian has written it so well that I find I can’t choose between the boys either. I’m anxious to pick up Lady Smoke and find out how these relationships progress. AND the ending?!?! I’m dying to find out more!!! I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys YA fantasy.