Ash Princess

Ash Princess

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, 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.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but...

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Title:Ash Princess
Author:Laura Sebastian
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Ash Princess Reviews

  • Kayla

    Hey Ya’ll!

    I received this ARC of Ash Princess, coming out April 24 of 2018, from a Goodreads giveaway and I picked it up immediately when it arrived at my house. This book, as you’ll read in other reviews, started out trying to be the Falling Kingdoms series. I’m not even going to lie, the first maybe 15% wasn’t that unique. But by the end of the book it had come into it’s own and earned itself a 5 star rating from me, which as you guys probably know not many books get. A book really has to blow

    Hey Ya’ll!

    I received this ARC of Ash Princess, coming out April 24 of 2018, from a Goodreads giveaway and I picked it up immediately when it arrived at my house. This book, as you’ll read in other reviews, started out trying to be the Falling Kingdoms series. I’m not even going to lie, the first maybe 15% wasn’t that unique. But by the end of the book it had come into it’s own and earned itself a 5 star rating from me, which as you guys probably know not many books get. A book really has to blow me away to get 5 stars, and this one really did. Keep on reading for my in-depth, spoiler-free review on this ARC.

    You can also see this review

    Theodosia was very young when her country was taken over by the Kalovaxians and her mother, the Fire Queen, Daughter of the Fire God Houzzah, was slaughtered before her eyes. She never knew why her life was spared. She is being kept prisoner, regularly punished for things her people do in rebellion, and has been dubbed the Princess of Ashes. All of this hasn’t broken her, but when one of her people is captured and she is forced to carry out his punishment, her resolve is broken and it’s the start of Theo rebelling against the cruel Kaiser who has kept her under his thumb for all of her life.

    Working with three other rebels, Art, Blaise, and Heron, she works to bring down the Kaiser from inside. The rest of the book is the group playing out their plans, including inciting the rebellion of the Crown Prince against his father, poison, and murder.

    The first thing I want to talk about is the world, because this is the weakest part of the book and almost dropped it down to a four star for me. To be honest, there really wasn’t that much about the world that was super unique, and I think maybe because there really wasn’t much focus on the world or the world building at all. This book very much focused on the intrigue, drama, and plot and unfortunately that really left something to be desired in the world building aspect of the book.

    “Today is done, the time has come

    For little birds to fly.

    Tomorrow is near, the time is here

    For old crows to die.” (296)

    The first thing I need to address is the big “conflict” at the beginning of the book. This is what makes her finally want to do something about her situation, but it was honestly really not that conflicting. She does what she needs to, but honestly she doesn’t seem that broken up about it, and I expected her allies to be pissed when they learned about it and they weren’t. That really confused me, if I’m being honest.

    The only things that really set this book apart from others world-building-wise was the Spiritgems, the underlying religious aspects that come up, and the Kalovaxian culture that is introduced, specifically the Kaiser and his part in everything, as well as the Kalovaxian conquering of quite a few countries. I am really hoping that in the next book, Lady Smoke (which comes out Spring 2019), we will get to learn more about the history of the Kalovaxians and get to explore the world more now that Theodosia isn’t tied to her castle.

    As for the Spiritgems, I really enjoyed reading about Theodosia’s inner struggle regarding using them. In this world, you are not supposed to use Spiritgems unless you have earned them. You earn them basically by going on a pilgrimage and spending a lot of time praying to your chosen God, who might then decide you are worthy and gift you magic, THEN you can use the Spiritgems. The Astreans, Theodosia’s people, believe that using the Spiritgems without the blessing of your god will result in being denied access to the After, and your spirit will be forced to walk the world as a Shade, never to see your loved ones again. This is why even though Theo has quite easy access to Spiritgems if she wanted, she chooses not to use Houzzah’s power that runs in her blood, because the one thing that has really kept her going when she had no one was knowing she would see her mother in the After.

    The next thing I want to talk about is the characters, which were very well-developed and were all very distinct from each other. I’ll go from my most favorite characters down to the characters I’m meh about. I’m actually going to talk about the character Crescentia first, because she started out as a very flat, annoying character and turned into a vengeful badass and I can’t wait to see what she does in the next book.

    Crescentia, or Cress, is the daughter to the Theyn, the man who slit Theo’s mother’s throat. Cress, despite the odds, became a very good friend to Theo over the years of her capture, and really did what she could to make Theo, or Thora as the Kalovaxians call her, feel like she belonged. It’s hard to talk about her development without spoilers, but throughout the book you will realize that Cress really does her best to ignore all the bad things that happen to Theo and her fellow Astreans. She doesn’t care that she was inadvertently a part of enslaving an entire race of people, and doesn’t even blink an eye when she talks about all the countries the Kaiser has conquered before Astrea.

    “It may be that I was a fool to trust Cress, not because of who she is but because of how she was raised. This is the only world she knows, and though it’s a nightmare to me, it’s a world she’s at home in. I suppose it’s easy to be at home in a world where you are on top. It’s easy not to notice those whose backs you stand on to stay there. One doesn’t even see them” (250).

    To me, when Cress finally shows her true self everything starts to make sense. Cress’ main motivation as a character is marrying the Crown Prince and becoming the future Kaiserin; she is definitely a character that would put her ambitions above anything else, and will do petty things to people who are supposed to be her friends to be successful in her goals.

    “You as well, Lady Thora. You both look lovely, of course,” he says pulling my chair out for me. When he goes to push me in, he drops his voice low so that only I can hear it. “Did you lose a bet of some kind?”

    I stifle a grimace. “Crescentia was kind enough to lend me her dress.”

    “Yes,” he says, barely holding back laughter. “Very kind.” (157)

    Theo is my next favorite character, clearly with the strongest backstory of them all as the main character. All Theo can think when Blaise first comes to try and save her is that she will finally escape, but she puts the needs of her people above her own and chooses to instead stay and try to gain any information she can.

    “Something in me is waking up. This is not my home. I am not their prize. I am not content with the life they have so kindly spared. Ampelio can’t save me anymore…I have to figure out how to save myself” (34).

    She struggles with the weight of the responsibility on her shoulders, and the expectations of Art, Blaise, and Heron and tries to live up to their expectations as best she can. But she also struggles with the things they want her to do, to people she has come to see as her friends, Kalovaxian or not. Her strength as a character is incredible, I can’t imagine living through the punishments she’s been dealt her entire life, and still be standing as long as she has. I also understand through reading this book, that so far a lot of her character we’ve seen have been personalities she seems to be able to conjure out of thin air, and she herself separates these personalities in her head. “Thora” is a broken Ash Princess, who only wants to stay alive and please the Kaiser, and is Cress’ best friend. She is “Theodosia” when she needs to be seen as a queen by her people, often her tell for this is literally just her behavior. She tries to act like her mother, commanding, shoulders back, pride in her stature. She always has to stay in one of her “characters” no matter who is around. When Art, Theo, and Heron are around she feels she can’t relax, because if they see her break under the pressure of her situation she will lose their respect. When she is Thora, she can’t afford to play anything but the broken girl she’s been for years, for fear of punishment by the Kaiser.

    The next character I’ve come to really love and understand is Art, or Artemisia. She starts off, plainly, as an asshole. She believes that Theo has lived a plush and comfortable life in a gilded cage, and really doesn’t understand why Theo needs “rescuing”. She really had no respect for her, and always comes across very caustic and rude. She is the daughter to Dragonsbane, a pirate that has been a thorn in the Kaiser’s side since the conquering of Astrea, and is equally a badass. Her story eventually expands an we learn more about her past and the development of the eventual friendship between Art and Theo.

    Blaise is pretty okay as a character. He is a blast from her past, as they used to play together as children, and really ends up being a built in love interest for Theo. I honestly wasn’t upset about it at all, even if it is pretty trope-y, because it’s so tragic, and if something happens in the next book that I think is going to happen I will be seriously so upset.

    “This is a kiss of acceptance, for him as well as me. It’s forgiveness for things we’ve done that are unforgivable. I love him, but the realization doesn’t feel like plunging into ice water the way it does when I try to pull apart my feelings for Soren. Because falling in love with Blaise was always going to happen, even if we lived in a simpler world where the siege never happened. Even if we were both unscarred. We were always going to end up here.

    I can see it before me as clearly as if I’m looking through a window: our parents still alive and happy and teasing us for every tiny show of affection, Blaise and I walking through my mother’s garden hand in hand, kissing him goodbye when he leaves for his Guardian trials, kissing him hello again when he finally returns. I want that life so badly my chest aches, and there is nothing wouldn’t give to have it.” (303)

    Then there’s Heron, Dragonsbane, Soren, and the Kaiser. Honestly, these are all characters I am pretty meh about. Soren was a total hypocrite, saying he wanted to be nothing like his father and then turning out to be exactly like him. Heron I just don’t know enough about and I really want to. Dragonsbane I feel like I just am never going to like, because of who she is and what she could have done but never did. Finally, I feel like the Kaiser is just the typical villain. There’s nothing about him that’s redeeming, or that makes him human. At least the Theyn was human in that he loved his daughter more than anything, but honestly the Kaiser seems to look at everything as an experiment in economics, science, and cruelty. He’s, plainly put, a psychopath.

    Honestly, it was very well written. All the different plots and subplots, and scheming and character development was incredibly well done. There were definitely flaws, but this was the kind of book I could pick up and read in one sitting. That, for me, pretty much completely wipes out the tiny things that annoyed me.

    I don’t know that I agree with what happened with Soren at the end of the book, but it certainly sets up a lot for the sequels (this is meant to be a trilogy at series-end).

    I definitely have some questions that need to be answered, and things that definitely need to improve and pan out in the sequels to make me happy with the way the first book went, but I won’t know until then if the whole story ARC is 5 stars.

    I couldn’t find the page because I didn’t mark it, but there was only one (1) “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”, which is a pretty good thing to note as that phrase pisses me off beyond belief.

    I want certain things to happen with Cress in the future books and I’ll be pretty upset if they don’t. I want Cress to accomplish her goal of being the Kaiserin but in a different way than she originally planned. I want a dual perspective storyline, with Cress being the secondary narrator.

    I’m also hoping we see more of Art. She was a totally boss character, which you will definitely dislike when you first meet but I promise she will win you over.

    To be honest, I have so many expectations for book two and I don’t know how it’s going to go if she doesn’t meet or exceed them. I really hate second book syndrome, and I’m seriously hoping that the rest of the books live up to the standards that have been set from the first book in the series.

    ___________________________________________________________

    It had it's faults but honestly that was one of the best books I've read in a pretty long time. And now I have to wait until 2019 for the next one *facepalm*

    GUYS I JUST GOT MY ARC AND IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL ;D

    I am so picking this up after I'm done reading All the Crooked Saints

    Getting the notification that I was a winner for the goodreads giveaway for this book actually made me do my happy dance.

    At least GR has my back when Edelweiss doesn't. Yeah, im still mad about that.

  • Simona

    Please tell me "Prinz" is a typo in the synopsis and that it's not how they spell prince bc I don't think I could cope with that tbh xD

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    DNF. I ended up skimming towards the end so I left off a rating.

    I think this book had potential and could've pulled off all of the abuse, torture, and generally horrible world Theo faced, but it mostly turned into a super depressing & forgettable read instead. By 20% it was still just pain, misery, and suffering and... ok, I get that it's a CRUEL WORLD. I get that she's in a hellish situation. I want something I can be

    besides just "not this!" I don't mind a lot of suffering in my storie

    DNF. I ended up skimming towards the end so I left off a rating.

    I think this book had potential and could've pulled off all of the abuse, torture, and generally horrible world Theo faced, but it mostly turned into a super depressing & forgettable read instead. By 20% it was still just pain, misery, and suffering and... ok, I get that it's a CRUEL WORLD. I get that she's in a hellish situation. I want something I can be

    besides just "not this!" I don't mind a lot of suffering in my stories as long as there's an undercurrent of hope or redemption. I just need something to get behind!

    The way Theo took herself

    was kind of the last straw for me. The story tried to make all of these situations at the start bear SO much weight & significance, but they just felt comically hollow since nothing had really been established yet. Everything was A VERY BIG DEAL. And Theo definitely had solid reasons for her bitter hatred and quest for revenge, but the story jumped right into how much her life sucked before I had a chance to really get to know her. That made it pretty hard to care enough to want to see her succeed.

    Otherwise, the story felt like a blend of a TON of other recent YA fantasy books. That in itself isn't a bad thing at all, though! I love those books and keep reading them for a reason. Princesses who are out of a throne, brooding princes, love triangles, and evil kings will never get old... if they're in a context where they work.

    So this one had a ton of potential, but the execution reallllly didn't work for me personally. I think others might still have fun with it, though! This is probably more of a case of "it's not you, it's me."

  • Melanie
  • Candace Robinson

    I'm just going to open up and say this book is just a jumbo of every other YA fantasy book thrown together, especially Ruined by Amy Tintera, which is a book that I loved. It also had Red Queen vibes. I think if this would have been my first YA fantasy book, I would have probably liked it a lot more. Also, throw in my most hated trope, sort of a weird love triangle, and you already have me annoyed. Actually, I'm not even sure if it was a triangle, but there were multiple kisses going on.

    Another

    I'm just going to open up and say this book is just a jumbo of every other YA fantasy book thrown together, especially Ruined by Amy Tintera, which is a book that I loved. It also had Red Queen vibes. I think if this would have been my first YA fantasy book, I would have probably liked it a lot more. Also, throw in my most hated trope, sort of a weird love triangle, and you already have me annoyed. Actually, I'm not even sure if it was a triangle, but there were multiple kisses going on.

    Another thing that bothers me is when a character is annoying and takes herself too seriously. Theo/Thora just kept on saying my people this, and I'm the queen that. She also has all these intense memories from when she was seven or younger. I feel like I can barely remember yesterday, let alone when I was five.

    What was good is that the writing was really well done, and if some of the trope things would have been removed (like girl pretending she likes a guy to betray/kill him, but she really likes him) it would have been a lot better. I just need something more fresh/different. However, I would still read the next book to see what happens next...

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