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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-18 02:35
Ash Princess- 4 1/2 Stars
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced reader copy of this book

 

 

Thora/Theo

Upon learning that the Ash Princess was going to be another "Underdog Heroine Out to Save Her Impoverished And Abused People," I was, quite honestly, bored. Soooo many of those already out there. So we really need another? Certainly NOT! However, this particular heroine just doesn't come off like the others. Perhaps it is her unique status as the "Ash Princess" or maybe her surroundings or back story, or maybe the writing was just so good that I can overlook any tropes that might appear. Whatever it is, Theo just isn't like other YA book heroines. She does some things that I don't really agree with, but she does them for the right reasons and that has to count for something right? Right.

Blaise

My boy, Blaise. Where do I begin? He is the stuff Book Boyfriends are made of. He held back a the right times and made himself vulnerable at the right times. And you just know there is some crazy power that he keeps at bay, but I have no doubt if Theo needed him, all bets would be off. I enjoyed this character.

Soren

The third corner of our triangle. Honestly, I pity him more than anyone else in the story, which is saying quite a bit, because there are a number of people in this story that deserve pity. He's just ordered around or tricked or used by just about everyone. He feels guilty for what he does but by the time he stands up to his father, it's too late on every side, so e threw himself into the line of fire for nothing. Pressure from everyone. No one to trust. Sadly, no one who truly cares for him...and acknowledges it.  Just plain sad. 

Elpis

Okay, let's take a moment to discuss the real hero of this book. The biggest play in the story and arguably the most risky, and it was a thirteen year old girl. If there were more girls like Elpis in this story, there would be a pretty formidable army of teenage girls-- and really, who wants to fight an army of teenage girls.

The Kaiser

You know, normally I just want the good guys to win. This time, I wanted the bad guys to lose. Like lose big. I wanted him ripped apart. But waiting for it- actually I think that'll make it even better. And I really want Soren to be the one who does it. I know that Theo wants it, but Soren just seems more satisfying to me. 

Cress

She's kind of that spoiled best friend that you can't help liking even though their entitlement is obnoxious. Even so, until the end, I really did like her. And in the end, I still understood her. One of the great things about these characters, for the most part, even when you don't like what they're doing, you can understand why they're doing it.

 

There were really no big surprises with the plot as far as the MC's goals and where she wanted to end up. Even not knowing how it ended, I wasn't like, "Wow, where did that come from?" Tension continued to build through the story, however, and there was never a part that was lackluster, though that also meant that no parts really shined for me, which is fine, because that just means the whole story was pretty solid. There really wasn't anything spectacularly new. A tyrant took over a smaller country and made them slaves while his own people obeyed him out of fear. The execution of the writing made it special however, which we will get to in minute.

 

 

Solid A+ for World Building. I'm not sure of the time period, however, the place was very well-written and never did I feel I wasn't actually there. I can imagine the dungeons and the Was as the Prinze and Theo sailed under the stars. The mines, though we never actually visit them, so dark and dank that anyone would go crazy down there. The throne room, commanding and intimidating and cold. 

 

 

If I were to describe the writing in this book with one word, it would be: lush. There was no choppiness. Nothing was rushed or slow. The pace, as mentioned, was steady and engaging. Characters were fleshed out and we saw angles of everyone mentioned. Even the Kaiser had a backstory. Where I expected action scenes to be hurried, they were fully described without being drawn out. 

 

Recommended to: fantasy fans, romance fans, Maggie Steifvater and Sarah J. Maas fans

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text 2018-05-16 14:48
Reading progress update: I've read 50%.
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

The first half of this book whizzed by! I love it. So many twists with relationships and I have so many conflicting feelings about characters- The prinze, Cress, even Thora/Theo. She has gotten herself into such a complicated web and I love the tension. 

Plan to devour the rest of this tonight!

 

So far...a 5 star book!

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text 2018-05-15 15:37
Reading progress update: I've read 7%.
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

7% and I'm hooked.

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review 2018-05-14 04:08
The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series #1) by Cat Sebastian
The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

This was my first by the author and it for sure won't be my last. Oliver and Jack were from opposite sides on the social scale and yet they found a way to make it work in a totally believable way. Even though Jack was kind of a jerk at times he was still lovable and charming and oh, so sexy. Definitely an enjoyable, satisfying story. 

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review 2018-05-11 03:00
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

Ash Princess is a story that I think was partly inspired by Sansa Stark in season 2-4 of Game of Thrones: our heroine, Theodosia, is the daughter of a murdered queen being raised in the court of her enemy. Like Sansa, she has red hair, the queen calls her ‘little (animal)’, she is beaten mercilessly and punished for the actions of her people, and her best friend wants to marry the prince. Like Sansa, Theodosia, renamed Thora by her cruel captor, knows that she has to placate the tyrant to survive, and that sometimes means doing nothing but smiling prettily and accepting the abuse.

 

 

I have been wanting to read, very specifically, a book about a princess being raised in her enemy’s court for some time now, and even though I built this book up in my head, I was not disappointed.

 

My favourite parts were when Theo was facing off against the Kaiser (king), and he was being creepy or cruel and she knew it, and she knew that she had to placate him by smiling and acting simple and grateful for every little thing, even though she was vastly more intelligent than she acted. She was manipulative with every character she met, and I loved that about her. I loved seeing her thought process and insight with her manipulation of the prinz (prince). She knew what he wanted, she knew what the Kaiser wanted, she even knew what her allies wanted, and she was able to provide that and play the part of a damsel, a plaything, or a queen, without losing herself or sight of her own goals. I loved the twist in the relationship with Theo’s best friend, and I don’t want to spoil what happens because it was really cool experiencing that myself.

 

 

Another thing I really loved was the depiction of the Kalovaxian’s cultural appropriation of Astrean culture. They use Astrean spirit gems not as revered magical devices, but as gaudy jewellery. They dress in Astrean fashion and eat Astrean food while the rest of Theo’s people are enslaved and murdered. Theo reflects on how they ‘enjoy’ Astrean things while Theo herself is not allowed to be any part Astrean, with her language, religion, and (the appearance of) her loyalty forcibly replaced by others.

 

Within YA fantasy, there is a lot of books now, in the last few years, and due to release in the next few years that are about young females, sometimes royalty, accessing their power and magic. It’ something that I really love reading about. In that way, Ash Princess is ‘just another’ one of these many books, where the young girl comes of age and discovers her own power along the way. Ash Princess differs from these other fantasy novels by giving us a heroine who is probably more insightful than a lot of others I’ve read. She doesn’t make a lot of stupid or rash decisions, and she’s adept at manipulating. There’s also vivid descriptions of what life is like for those enslaved by Theo’s captors, and a lot of violence.

 

However, there were a couple of things I wasn’t a big fan of. I felt that her relationship with the Prinz was organic, but I felt that the other corner of the supposed love triangle, with the character Blaise, was forced. I didn’t like Theo reflecting on her feelings for Blaise when he clearly didn’t have any for her but still acted like a jealous boyfriend when it suited the plot. I mean, just because you kiss someone doesn’t mean you’re in love, right? So it’s a love triangle without being a love triangle. Not that there’s anything wrong with love triangles!

 

I also felt like there was always a promise of Theo having fire magic, especially since she responded so vividly to the fire gems, but she never explored or even thought about exploring this, even when she was clearly the fourth piece in the little elemental-theme resistance. There was the tantalising promise and then nothing.

 

The other thing I didn’t like was the ending. I felt like there was a big showdown that I was excited for, but then after that the narrative fizzled like a balloon with a hole in it. While I didn’t necessarily need something as big as a battle, I did want more than what was provided. It was the definition of anti-climactic, and it felt like a letdown after all of the drama and violence. I felt like the revelation at the very end didn’t really make up for the lack of drama and conflict during what should have been the climax. I felt like the anti-climax was too busy setting up for the sequel than wrapping up its own ends and providing a complete and satisfying story. This left me unengaged enough to want to read more about Theo in her next novel.

 

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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